Enneagram 101: 

Your Crash Course in Enneagram Personality Tests 

January 2021 | by anna rogers

What is Enneagram? 

The Enneagram of Personality is a model of nine interconnected personality types, represented on a geometric figure called an enneagram. The exact origins of this system are a topic of debate, but modern Enneagram theories get their roots predominately from a Bolivian teacher in the 1950s.  

Enneagram has been widely used by spiritual teachers, psychologists, and business management teams alike, but the science behind it is not widely accepted in the academic community.  

Regardless of its popularity or scientific standing, the Enneagram is inarguably a healthy starting point for self-development and diving into questions about why we behave the way we do. Focusing on core beliefs, fears, and desires of each interrelated personality type, the Enneagram explores what shapes a person's worldview and perspective and how this impacts their relationships, accomplishments, and sense of being.  

The Enneagram test matches your personality to the nine types through a series of questions, giving you a percentage match to each type of personality – Reformer, Giver, Achiever, Individualist, Investigator, Loyalist, Enthusiast, Challenger, and Peacemaker. A dive into each of these categories explores the motivations and results of that personality type. 

Why does it matter? 

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom,” said Aristotle. In the same way that we dive deep into researching a subject matter that sparks passion or journey and observe along a trail through vast and beautiful mountains, knowing and growing ourselves requires self-exploration. Discoveries require first an intentional seeking-out.  

An Enneagram personality test is an effective guide for this journey of self-discovery, asking questions about what we value, how we respond, and what motivates us. Through the answers to these questions combined with the Enneagram results, we can better understand who we are and how we are different from others. This creates a foundation for personal development and understanding others in our lives.  

What does it mean (and NOT mean) for relationships? 

As we understand our own tendencies and motivations, we can begin to shape our actions into the healthiest version of our personality types. We can capitalize on the positive aspects of our personality while controlling the inclination to take things too far in an unhealthy or even harmful direction. This increased sense of purpose and intention shapes us into a person who others enjoy more, breeding wholesome and strong relationships that are also honest and authentic. 

 Instead of demanding change in others, we become more perceptive of how others think, feel, and interact. This gives us new insight into relationships and leads to more patience, understanding, and appreciation for our differences. 

Keep in mind, though, that humans are more complex than assigned and interconnected numbers. No one fits neatly into a category at all times, and to box an individual into an Enneagram personality type oversimplifies who they are. We must leave room for the beauty of nuance and humanity in ourselves and others, using the Enneagram as a tool or a guide, but not a perfect key for deciphering mankind. 


Stemming from the Greek ennea (nine) and grammos (something drawn or written), the Enneagram of Personality presents nine interconnected personality types. Here’s the breakdown: 


Fear: Imbalance / Desire: Perfection 

Reformers are always striving to do their best. They are responsible and exacting, sticklers for the rules, and pay great attention to detail. Ones are hardworking and practical.  


Fear: Being Alone / Desire: To Belong 

Givers are caring and nurturing, eager to give of themselves, and rarely saying no when help is asked of them, stemming from a desire to be needed. Twos are highly empathetic and approachable. 


Fear: Insignificance / Desire: To Be Valuable 

Achievers seek validation through their accomplishments. They are charismatic and make good first impressions but are extremely busy and on-the-go to ensure they are productive. Threes have high standards and want to be recognized for reaching their goals. 


Fear: Lack of Identity / Desire: Authenticity & Uniqueness 

Individualists are often creative and unique, with a persona that distinguishes itself from others. They desire to connect with others but feel that very few people are able to see them as they truly are. Fours are quirky and passionate. 


Fear: Incompetence / Desire: Understanding 

Investigators are insightful and curious, desiring to possess knowledge and understand their environment. Fives want to find out why things are the way they are – always searching and seeking. 


Fear: Insecurity / Desire: To Be Supported 

Loyalists, or Skeptics, are committed and security-oriented. Responsible and trustworthy, they often see problems coming before they arise. Sixes want to feel supported by others. 


Fear: Deprivation / Desire: Contentedness 

Enthusiasts are extroverted and optimistic, always seeking out spontaneity and adventure. They want to maintain happiness and freedom. Sevens are worried about missing out on worthwhile experiences. 


Fear: To Be Controlled / Desire: Self-Reliance 

Challengers are self-confident and assertive. They hope to prove their strength and resist weakness and vulnerability. Eights are resourceful and decisive but can often be confrontational and intimidating. 


Fear: Separation or Loss / Desire: Wholeness 

Peacemakers are easygoing and reassuring but can also smooth over conflict by oversimplifying problems. They value stability. Nines seek to create harmony in their environments. 

Helpful Resources 

  • Take a free Enneagram personality test or dive deeper with paid results at truity.com. 
  • Explore the nine personality types in depth at enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptionsThis website also dives into relationships of one Enneagram type with another. 
  • Learn about Enneagram in depth with Enneagram solutions, including individual coaching and business development, at integrative9.com. 
  • If you just want some fun Enneagram memes and videos or other more visual content (less reading), check out the #enneagram hashtag on Instagram!  

Originally printed in the January 2021 issue of Simply Local Magazine

Never miss an issue, check out SLM's digital editions here!  

related articles:

Get local updates, events and special offers!

Local Events