Nine Enneagram TypesAnd how to to discover your enneagram type
How to Discover Your Enneagram Type
Almost every book or website about The Enneagram (including this one) has nine lists of characteristics that are supposed to help you to discover your enneagram type (or enneatype). The problem with just using characteristics to type ourselves is that some characteristics are ‘typical’ (i.e. characteristic of our type) but some are not. The behaviours that we directly employ to repress, avoid or distract us from our core issues are ‘typical’. But those same behaviours may be employed by other enneagram types as a secondary means of avoiding their issues. For example, a Three may behave assertively (like an Eight) in order to be successful. So seeking success is a typical behaviour for a Three, but being assertive isn’t – it is simply a means to an end.
So behaviour alone doesn’t reveal our enneagram type – the beliefs, fears and motives that drive our behaviour are far more revealing. These factors are discussed in more detail on the individual enneagram type webpages, but below I have briefly described the motives that underlie each enneagram type’s key characteristics. After you have read these nine overviews, please read the information at the bottom of this webpage before going on to read the appropriate individual enneagram type webpages.
Type 1: Reformer
Other Names: Perfectionist, Judge, Crusader, Critic, Organiser, Teacher, Moralist, Activist.
Key Characteristics: Principled, Rational, Wise, Integrity, Idealistic, Respectable, Objective, Fair, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, Discerning, Perfectionist, Conscientious, Ethical, Honest, Organised, Critical, Impatient, Anxious, Dissatisfied, Frustrated.
Underlying Motives: Ones have a strong desire to be good, honest and perfect. So they maintain high standards and strive to improve everything.
Type 2: Helper
Other Names: Carer, Caretaker, Nurturer, Pleaser, Enabler, Manipulator, Martyr.
Key Characteristics: Caring, Generous, Sympathetic, Loving, Helpful, People-Pleasing, Thoughtful, Considerate, Warm-Hearted, Seductive, Sociable, Approachable, Vulnerable, Generous, Appreciated, Enthusiastic, Indispensable, Sentimental, Proud, Possessive, Needy, Emotional, Martyr.
Underlying Motives: Twos have a strong desire to be loved and accepted. So they are loving and kind to others in the hope that they will receive the same in return.
Type 3: Achiever
Other Names: Performer, Motivator, Status Seeker, Role Model, Professional.
Key Characteristics: Ambitious, Accomplished, Image-Conscious, Confident, Successful, Competitive, Approval-Seeking, Adaptable, Charming, Efficient, Energetic, Focused, Driven, Inspirational, Performer, Professional, Direct, Abrupt, Emotionally-Detached, Workaholic, Vanity.
Underlying Motives: Threes have a strong desire to feel valued. So they strive to maintain a ‘perfect’ image to get approval and validation.
Type 4: Individualist
Other Names: Artist, Romantic, Mystic, Melancholic, Sensationalist, Special One, Victim.
Key Characteristics: Self-Conscious, Sensitive, Honest, Reserved, Creative, Intense, Different, Individual, Expressive, Bohemian, Romantic, Emotional, Melodramatic, Self-Absorbed, Temperamental, Disappointed, Depressive, Vulnerable, Victim, Long-Suffering, Self-Pity, Inferior, Deficient.
Underlying Motives: Fours have a strong desire to be unique and special. They want to be significant and recognised for their unique identity.
Type 5: Investigator
Other Names: Observer, Thinker, Innovator, Expert, Specialist.
Key Characteristics: Perceptive, Insightful, Cerebral, Objective, Inquisitive, Innovative, Visionary, Knowledgeable, Intellectual, Focused, Rational, Detached, Private, Secretive, Reclusive, Insecure, Vulnerable, Untrusting, Low-Key, Easily Overwhelmed, Eccentric, Stingy, Hoarder.
Underlying Motives: Fives have a strong desire to be capable and competent. They need to understand everything to enable them to feel more competent.
Type 6: Loyalist
Other Names: Guardian, Sceptic, Traditionalist, Devotee, Advocate.
Key Characteristics: Committed, Reliable, Responsible, Trustworthy, Dependable, Dependent, Self-Doubt, Uncertain, Indecisive, Cautious, Suspicious, Alert, Trouble-Shooter, Friendly, Engaging, Security-Oriented, Worry, Anxious, Defensive, Defiant, Pessimistic, Catastrophising.
Underlying Motives: Sixes have a strong desire to feel supported. So they latch onto people who are competent and capable and draw upon their strengths.
Type 7: Enthusiast
Other Names: Optimist, Adventurer, Connoisseur, Entertainer, Generalist.
Key Characteristics: Spontaneous, Enthusiastic, Energetic, Optimistic, Cheerful, Uninhibited, Curious, Sharp, Versatile, Visionary, Distractible, Scattered, Indecisive, Bold, Practical, Multi-Tasker, Fast Learner, Busy, Plan Ahead, Anticipatory, Anxious, Frustrated, Directionless, Lost in Life (in both senses).
Underlying Motives: Sevens have a strong desire to feel satisfied. So they plan their busy lives to ensure they will always be happy and satisfied.
Type 8: Challenger
Other Names: Leader, Protector, Provider, Entrepreneur, Maverick, The Boss.
Key Characteristics: Assertive, Self-Assured, Strong, Decisive, Active, Wilful, Direct, Independent, Go-Getter, Aggressive, Protective, Resourceful, Industrious, Charismatic, Persuasive, Inspiring, Straight-Talking, Rugged, Vitality, Controlling, Confrontational, Loner, Intimidating, Frosty, Insensitive.
Underlying Motives: Eights have a strong desire to protect themselves. They want to feel safe and in control so they actively assert their strength and will.
Type 9: Peacemaker
Other Names: Mediator, Reconciler, Comforter, Utopian, Healer.
Key Characteristics: Pleasant, Agreeable, Easy Going, Considerate, Gentle, Accommodating, Patient, Unassuming, Identity-less, Stable, Trusting, Receptive, Reassuring, Withdrawn, Dreamer, Go With The Flow, Avoid Conflict, Optimistic, Spiritual, Complacent, Resistant, Stubborn, Procrastination, Inaction, Numb.
Underlying Motives: Nines have a strong desire to be peaceful. They want to be comfortable, contented and stress-free.
Discovering your Enneagram Type can be complex
Discovering your enneagram type is not a simple as you might think, because in addition to the nine main enneatypes there are:
- 3 Subtypes: Each of the nine main types has three subtypes (or variants), making 27 in all.
- 2 Wings: Each main type is also influenced by its “wings” (adjacent enneatypes). Most people have one dominant wing, but for some people both wings influence them equally.
- 2 Lines/Arrows: The lines of the enneagram symbol (which connect the nine types) indicate the directions our behaviour can move when we feel safe and relaxed (evolution) or when we feel stressed (devolution).
- Level of Development: Our overall level of personal development affects how much we exhibit the characteristics of our enneatype. The more developed our consciousness is, the less obvious our enneatype is, because our personality is more rounded, balanced and neutral, and the typical traits (especially the negative ones) are subtler.
Subtypes, Wings and Evolutionary / Devolutionary Behaviours are described on the individual enneatype webpages.
Narrowing down your Enneagram Type
Please bear the following factors in mind when trying to discover your enneagram type:
- Don’t rush into typing yourself. Take your time and read about your possible types from a few different sources. There is no point jumping to conclusions too early, because it won’t benefit you at all in the long run.
- You will have some characteristics from all nine types, so you need to look out for the group of characteristics that really resonate with you (not necessarily the type with the most matching characteristics). This is the reason online enneagram tests are not that reliable.
- You will also have some characteristics from all three subtypes within your enneatype, because you have all three instincts (self-preservation, sexual and social) to some degree, but one will be more dominant.
- Think back to how you were at age 20, because as we get older we often try to repress or deny some of our characteristics.
- The information about “wings” and evolutionary / devolutionary behaviours can be very helpful in narrowing down your enneatype type.
- Types 6 and 9 and the most difficult to determine, because they are quite neutral, without too many standout characteristics.
- Look out for blind-spots: Not wanting to admit to all the characteristics of your personality, especially the ‘negative’ ones.
- Don’t Idealise (want to be a particular type because you think it is nice) or Judge (not want to be a particular type because you don’t like some of its characteristics).
- Even after you have decided which type you probably are, keep an open mind for a while because you may suddenly see a characteristic or pattern that you weren’t really aware of before, and everything could change.
Don’t become identified with your Enneagram Type
The other factor to bear in mind once you have discovered your enneagram type, is not to become identified with it or use it to excuse your behaviour. Our enneatype is a basic description of nine generic personality types – nine archetypal patterns of behaviour. Our enneatype is not “who we are”. If anything, our enneatype is “who we are not”, because it describes generic patterns, programming and characteristics within our ego – not our true essence. Who we truly are is utterly unique and cannot be classified into one of nine broad types. Remember, there are hundreds of millions of people in the world of each enneatype. So becoming identified with your enneatype will prevent you using the enneagram for its primary purpose – for personal development and spiritual growth.