What Is The Enneagram? Inside The Personality Test Everyone Is Talking About

If you’re a fan of personality tests, chances are you’ve come across the Enneagram. Although Myers-Briggs holds the title for most popular personality test, the Enneagram is quickly rising up the ranks as an effective self-discovery and personality typing tool.

While we're hearing more about the Enneagram recently, it’s actually been around for quite some time. In fact, Greek scholars say the Enneagram symbol can be traced back to Pythagorean mathematics.

What is the Enneagram?

According to the Enneagram Institute, the Enneagram is a nine-point geometric model to identify nine different personality types. Each point represents a personality type.

The Enneagram is a tool to help people raise their self-awareness and provide insight into what drives them on a deep level. At the core of Enneagram teaching is self-actualization and using self-knowledge to tap into your full potential.

“The Enneagram test can be an incredibly useful tool for understanding the ‘why’ behind our behaviors,” says Dr. Lauren Cook. “It can also help explain the unique pain that we feel in our lives, as well as what compels us forward. The best part of the Enneagram is that it gives us a guide for when our types are in “health” vs. “unhealth” so that we can have some intentionality in our direction for growth.”

Dr. Cook breaks down the nine Enneagram types here:

  1. The Reformer: A natural truth and justice seeker, this type is often perfectionistic with rigid thinking patterns.
  2. The Helper: This type is a giver, with a strong underlying motivation to receive love. In many cases, they give too much of themselves and lose sight of their own needs in the process.
  3. The Achiever: Driven by their ambition and desire to succeed, the Achiever has a personal charm and charisma that is unparalleled. They are very image-conscious and self-confident. Achievers also tend to be chameleons, transforming into whoever they need to be in order to please others.
  4. The Individualist: This person is emotionally intuitive and dives deep into their feelings. On the flip side, soul searching can often lead them down a path of despair and self-pity.
  5. The Investigator: With an insatiable curiosity, the Investigator thinks deeply and values logic above all else. This type can often experience low energy and feel weighed down by others’ demands.
  6. The Loyalist: Wholeheartedly devoted to their loved ones, type six people are honorable and believe in the support and strength that comes from a community. However, they are also anxious and dwell about problems in the future.
  7. The Enthusiast: A fun-loving and energetic personality type, the Enthusiast is the bright light in the room. Their strength can also be their weakness, as they can get swept up in excitement and addictive habits.
  8. The Challenger: This type is courageous and willful. As an instinctual leader and go getter, Challengers know what they want and do what it takes to make it happen. While they have good intentions, their temperamental tendencies can cause them to self-sabotage.
  9. The Peacemaker: Harmony is the number one value of the Peacemaker. Striving to achieve balance in all areas of life, this type wants to create unity in the world. However, their passive and peaceful nature can prevent them from taking a stand to create real impact.

Enneagram teachers explain that each type has a unique way of seeing the world and an underlying motivation that drives how they think, feel and behave. 

How the Enneagram can be used to improve our life

Working with the Enneagram system not only provides greater insight into your personality, but also the personality of others. Understanding what motivates other people will significantly improve the way you connect and communicate.

The Enneagram can be a powerful tool in both your personal and professional life. Here are some of the areas where this personality test can be beneficial:

Self-development

This means learning about yourself on a deeper level will allow you to see areas that can use improvement and locate your blind spots.

Relationships

This means raising your self-awareness will change how you relate to the people in your life. 

Ian Morgan Cron, psychotherapist, Enneagram teacher, and host of the popular podcast, Typology, says, "when you use the Enneagram as a tool for understanding both yourself as well as those around you, it makes us better parents, partners, colleagues, friends, and overall more capable of healthy relationships. It arises empathy and understanding for other people; it helps us understand the lens for which other people – and ourselves – see the world."

Parenting

This means gaining greater insight into your children’s personalities will enable you to adjust your parenting style accordingly.

Spiritual growth

This means understanding more about your beliefs will help raise your consciousness and connect to a higher power.

"Tapping into the Enneagram can help us overcome the self-defeating patterns of personality that we consistently trip over – those 'repetitive behaviors' that we recognize in hindsight," Cron adds.

Does the Enneagram really work? Science says yes

While many people swear by the wisdom of the Enneagram, the question remains: how effective is it?

According to a study published in the Journal of Adult Development, results showed people who participated in an Enneagram training program demonstrated greater ego development and personal growth.

Additional research published in the journal Contemporary Family Therapy demonstrated the usefulness of the Enneagram in counseling and therapy sessions.

Another year-long study conducted in 2004 by Saville and Holdsworth proved the effectiveness of the Enneagram when compared to Myers-Briggs and the Big Five.

Ready to take the next step on your personal development journey? Take the Enneagram personality test and share your type in the comments below. And while you're at it, head to our website and become a Silk + Sonder member today! 

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