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Enneagram: The Only Valid Personality-Typing System?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Several years ago, the musical project Sleeping at Last invited my high school choir to perform in the background of the song Nine. Lead singer Ryan O’Neal explained the song’s dedication to people who identified with the Enneagram number 9. Enneagram, he insightfully told us, “is the bottom of your iceberg, the things about yourself you bury far beneath the surface with the hope they never become seen.” My choir was stunned into silence. 

Personality tests and horoscope readings are certainly fun, but their validity leaves some things to be desired. Enneagram, with its exploration of an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, center of intelligence and human psyche, seemed different. Wiser. Scarier. Often, I find that the more a personality test’s results scare you, the more accurate they are. Enneagram is just as much about pinpointing a person’s shortcomings as it is about celebrating their strengths. 

I have learned a great deal about the personality system since that fateful day in choir, and I would like to share what has come to be my understanding of the nine types, as well as a couple of online tests that have (generally) given me accurate results. But, like any personality system, you’re far better off reading about each type to find what hits closest to home, as opposed to any sorting test!

1: The Reformer

The rational and balanced Type 1 is driven by the desire to have integrity, advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves and make moral choices. Their basic fear is appearing ill-intentioned and corrupt and they dislike things outside of their control. 

Common traits: principled, purposeful, self-controlled, fastidious, perfectionistic

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2: The Helper

Type 2’s deepest desire is to be loved and accepted by the world, and they often feel they must adopt attentive, caring and overly-optimistic attitudes toward those around them in order to gain this. The basic fear of 2s is to be unwanted and ignored. 

Common traits: generous, charismatic, people-pleasing, empathetic, possessive

3: The Achiever

Type 3s are driven by the desire to be valued, accomplished and successful. They often set big goals for themselves in order to receive praise and validation. Their greatest fear is failure and worthlessness, and they overcompensate for this by maintaining high energy and expectations.

Common traits: adaptable, ambitious, driven, charming, image-conscious

4: The Individualist

What drive type 4s are the desire to pursue their own identity and self-expression and an innate need for authenticity. Type 4s have the basic fear of not making an impact on the world. As a result, they might unintentionally adopt unique characteristics in order to appear more distinguishable and genuine. 

Common traits: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, creative, introverted

5: The Investigator

Type 5s are driven by the desire to feel helpful and competent, and they tend to prioritize their own intellect over other pursuits. Their deepest fear is appearing useless and inadequate. 5s passionately research and expand their knowledge in order to compensate for this fear. 

Common traits: analytical, innovative, secretive, curious, isolated

6: The Loyalist

Type 6s, also called skeptics and troopers, have the basic desire of feeling secure in their environment and relationships. Their greatest fear is losing personal support and predictability. 6s often find it difficult to trust others but are deeply loyal to those they do trust. 

Common traits: loyal, responsible, anxious, hard-working, cautious

7: The Enthusiast

Also known as the epicure, type 7s crave feelings of stimulation, engagement and satisfaction. The basic fear of 7s is being deprived of opportunities and life experiences. As a result, 7s are highly goal-oriented people who tend to keep busy, though they might be prone to burnout. 

Common traits: spontaneous, quick-thinking, adventurous, extroverted, scattered

8: The Challenger

The deepest desire of Type 8s is to protect themselves and those around them and to remain in control of their lives. Their greatest fear is appearing vulnerable and being hurt by others. 8s are constantly putting their guard up and defending the underdog. 

Common traits: self-confident, decisive, independent, assertive, confrontational

9: The Peacemaker

Type 9s strive to have internal peace and harmony with the world around them. They often defend themselves by ignoring pain or numbing internal conflict. The basic fear of 9s is being separate from and clashing with others, thus they tend to avoid discomfort to the point of apathy. 

Common traits: patient, accepting, easygoing, trusting, peaceful

One last thing to note when finding your Enneagram type is your wing number! A wing is whichever number your predominant type sits between you more relate to. For example, as a 9, you would be either 9w8 or 9w1 (w = wing). Though perhaps not perfect, relating a little more to 1 than 8 would make you a 9w1. 

And lastly, here are three FREE Enneagram tests to explore deeper:

I hope you learn something new about yourself through Enneagram! If you want to find out which famous celebrities and fictional characters you share a type with, just type into the search bar of the Personality Database website! I’m a 4w5, which is the same as Hozier, Mitski and Edward Cullen! 

Amelia is a Chicago-native English major. Other than writing articles for Her Campus at UCLA, she enjoys speculative fiction, binging A24 films, and dissecting characters on the Personality Database.