Personality traits have been studied for thousands of years. In 370 BC, Hippocrates came to the theory that personality traits and therefore some of the behaviours that humans exhibited, could be caused by certain bodily fluids.
In the 4th century, a Christian mystic in Alexandria came to the conclusion that there were nine ‘thoughts’, or traits perhaps, that identified human behavior.
Much later, the term Enneagram was born. This comes from two Greek words, meaning nine and drawn. It refers to nine different personalities being drawn from the human mind, although at the time, these different traits were not defined.
The Enneagram personality that is understood and tested for today, was introduced by Oscar Ichazo. The Enneagram of personality is taught slightly differently by different teachers but refers to nine interconnected personality types.
What is an Enneagram personality?
It should perhaps be pointed out that not all the relevant academic authorities accept the complete existence of the Enneagram of personalities. But many consulting firms, and big brand names, have embraced it as a business tool.
An article published in The American Journal of Psychiatry defines the Enneagram of personalities as nine distinct strategies that the human mind uses to form their worldview and how they relate to themselves, and others.
It refers to how people understand the world around them, and then how they respond and interact with it. And, cope with it also.
The nine personality types are very distinct, and they are interconnected. However, Enneagram personalities are driven by one core type.
What variations of Enneagram personality are there?
The Enneagram of personality defines the nine different personality types. A person with one Enneagram type will have their views and opinions shaped by this. In effect, an Enneagram personality type will define that person’s core beliefs.
Believing in something strongly is not necessarily a problem, but it can lead to a narrow worldview. This could lead to the question, is personality adaptable to change, or are humans locked into the way they are?
There are, as you now know, nine types of Enneagram personality. These are those nine:
- The reformer
- The helper
- The achiever
- The individualist
- The investigator
- The loyalist
- The enthusiast
- The challenger
- The peacemaker
Some of these are quite clear. The peacemaker refers to those who are complacent, do not seek conflict, and are agreeable. Others such as the investigator perhaps less so.
The investigator refers to intensity, loneliness, secretiveness, but also intelligence.
There are some myths that you can be more than one Enneagram number, or that yours can change over time. This is not true, and many teachers believe your number is defined during childhood.
Your wing numbers, however, can change and may change more than once.
What are wing numbers?
On the Enneagram of personality, the number that defines you will be sandwiched as it were between two other personality types. These numbers are known as your wings.
Your personality type can be joined by one of these wings. If you are a 9 then you could be a 9 wing 1, or a 9 wing 8, for instance.
One of the issues with these teachings is that people often try to give themselves their number.
It is easy to relate to more than one personality or to define yourself as The Achiever when perhaps you are really The Challenger. Likewise, people wish to choose their own wings, but this is also not possible.
What can happen though, is throughout a person’s life, they may swing from one wing to another.
Does the Enneagram of personality define you?
Not only is there a tendency for people to try and select their personality type according to their self-perception, but some people take it completely to heart.
Personality types defined by the Enneagram aren’t intended to pen people into one box. They are also not there to categorize them as such.
You can use your Enneagram personality knowledge to help with self-awareness and self-growth. It can simply make you more aware of who you are, and what leads you to think and behave the way you do.
Are you an Enneagram personality?
One way to find out what Enneagram personality you are is to undertake one of the many tests available.
You may find that the definitions for each personality type differ depending on who sets the test.
For instance, number 5 The Investigator, may be known on some tests as The Specialist.
This is one of the rarer types and can refer to someone who is better left alone to solve problems. They may be secretive and work alone, but they have the intelligence to get results.
According to Harvard Business Review, the personality testing industry is now worth approximately $500 million a year. Clearly then, there is a great desire for individuals to find out what Enneagram personality they are.
Do you have to take a test to discover your Enneagram personality?
No, not at all. In fact, some people don’t believe that all tests are accurate.
The reasoning behind this is that Enneagram personality tests concentrate on the individual’s traits. This is fine in building up a picture of how someone is, but it doesn’t cut into what truly motivates them.
Remember, the Enneagram of personality refers to core beliefs. Those beliefs shape a person’s view of the world and their interaction with it.
Therefore, it may be better to look at the list of personality types and match which one fits you by looking at the meaning behind them.
Instead of listing the types, here are the core motivations for each one:
- Being good and right
- Being needed and loved
- Being admired and of value
- Being yourself truly
- To be capable and useful
- Wanting security and support
- To be content with yourself
- Being independent and wilful
- Wanting to be at peace
Taking out a test with percentage results can also help to narrow down your personality type in conjunction with considering the above. Possibly the key to discovering your Enneagram personality type is to be honest with yourself.
Do not pick the number you think flatters you the most, but really look inside at what you believe in.
How is being an Enneagram personality beneficial, or disadvantageous?
There are ways that personality shapes your health and well-being, and understanding them could be beneficial.
It is possible that by understanding your core motivations you could become more at peace with who you are. You could perhaps use this knowledge as you travel through life to stop and consider other alternatives instead of being overpowered by your Enneagram number.
Businesses are using these types of tests to employ people or to assemble teams for projects. Many believe that this type of profiling is good for problem-solving.
But many others debunk it as pseudoscience.
Whether you truly believe that your personality type can be defined by one number from a group of nine, there is something of great interest here.
Simply understanding your core motivations could change the way that you see the world. Having strong beliefs is all well and good, but when it blinkers your views it can narrow your options immensely.
You may find that your company tests you at some point as it is becoming more commonplace. If not, then look at the core beliefs and try to pinpoint where you lie on the Enneagram of personality. An online test could also help to determine your number.