By: Mandy Pennington
Most people have heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test: a 16-type system using a four-letter combination to type each person. Lesser-known but—in my opinion—more insightful is the Enneagram personality test. The Enneagram is founded in Sufi mysticism, but has since become a method many churches and Christian organizations use, including Res Life at GU. The Enneagram is a nine-type system that factors the way we view ourselves into the results much more than the Myers-Briggs does. A large difference between the two tests is their contrasting focuses on nature vs. nurture. The Myers-Briggs calculates results in light of nature—the way we were born and our genetics—and approaches any changes in our personalities since birth with the view that they are simply situational “compensations.” However, the Enneagram factors in nurture, saying that the way we were raised and the ways we’ve been shaped by our experiences have made a difference in the personality type we have today. When given a type—a number one through nine—you are also given a “wing,” which is the number on either side of your number in order. Your wing number describes your secondary personality characteristics. Each type also has a basic fear, desire, virtue, and vice.
Being the Enneagram nerd that I am, I thought it would be fun to ask someone of each type the same question and read the varying responses. Most of these answers are very telling of the person’s personality type, even though all of those interviewed come from the same general background and are all students at a Christian university. Each person was posed with the following question: “You’re at a party. Where are you and what are you doing?”
Type One: The Reformer / Perfectionist
Caleb McKay, senior: “If there’s a party, I’m usually off to the side having a conversation with no more than one or two people. I usually already know these people.”
Ones are rational, idealistic, principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic. Caleb’s answer shows these qualities; he prefers a controlled environment with only a few people who he already knows, so that he feels control over the situation and purpose in his reason for being at the party.
Type Two: The Helper
Noah Kneer, senior: “I am with the people but really nervous about people’s well-being and keeping everyone from fighting.”
Twos are caring, interpersonal, possessive, generous, demonstrative, nurturing and people-pleasing. Twos live their lives in constant pursuit of reciprocal love, and are very others-centered. Noah shows the empathetic side of his Two nature, explaining how instead of worrying about his own well-being at the party, he is concerned about everyone else’s. Twos prefer harmony and love, and Noah wants to make sure that everyone feels loved and included.
Type Three: The Achiever / Performer
Riley Hannula, junior: “If there’s a party, I’m there dancing with a large amount of other people to songs from the top 40 playlist.”
Threes are pragmatic, success-oriented, excelling, adaptive, and image-conscious. They seek approval above all else, notoriously mistaking applause for love. Threes are usually extremely hardworking and talented people, but find themselves “performing” when with others to keep up a certain image. Riley displays this nature by sharing how she likes to be in the middle of the crowd, doing what everyone else is doing. She prefers to be in the center of the action, “performing” socially, while others would prefer to sit in the corner and watch. Her social skills excel and adapt in different situations.
Type Four: The Romantic / Individualist / Artist
Brian Gertler, CRE: “I’m probably in a secluded room with a couple people talking about music and telling goofy stories.”
Fours are sensitive, self-absorbed, temperamental, passionate, emotional, artistic, expressive, and withdrawn. Fours spend their lives rediscovering themselves over and over, their true purpose to become fully self-aware and uniquely themselves. They prefer to be alone or with a small group of friends, and are often overwhelmed by too much sensory input or large crowds. Brian portrays this in his answer, saying that he finds himself in a secluded room away from the loud party with only a few people. He talks about music—something he really loves—and tells goofy stories that accurately portray and express his personality.
Type Five: The Investigator / Thinker / Observer
Ivy Lyons, junior: “At a party, I’m probably talking about some philosophical thought or telling a funny story that has no real place in a party setting. Partially because I’m lame, wholly because I overthink things.”
Fives are intense, perceptive, secretive, innovative, and isolated. The Five is sometimes unofficially called “The Hermit” because they spend so much time alone in thought. Ivy articulated that perfectly with his assessment of himself, saying that he usually is talking about a philosophical thought or a story that doesn’t have a place at a party. These are probably pre-conceived thoughts that he finally shares when he is around others, including in a party setting.
Type Six: The Loyalist / Skeptic / Questioner
Beth Richardson, senior: “At a party where I don’t know a lot of people, I’m hanging out near the edges with one or two people I do know. If I know everyone, I’m still probably not seeking to be the center of attention, but people know I’m there.”
Sixes are security-oriented, loyal, engaging, anxious, suspicious, responsible, and committed. Some of these traits may seem conflicting, but they all fit into a person who is caring, loving, and committed to the people they love. However, they desperately needs security and support, getting anxious and fearful when they don’t have it. Beth hangs out near the edge of a party with the people she knows will support and guide her, finding her security in the known. She says that if she does know everyone, she still doesn’t want to be the center of attention, always seeking security above all else. She feels supported by and comfortable with the ones she loves.
Type Seven: The Enthusiast / Adventurer
Erin Gilmore, junior: “At a party I would find a group of friends to hang around with. I would also make a cycle every so often and say hi to the people I know. I would keep ending up with my original group of friends.”
Sevens are energetic, busy, fun-loving, spontaneous, versatile, scattered, and distractible. They are the “life-of-the-party” type. Erin definitely fits that bill, explaining how she makes cycles at parties to go talk to the people that she knows—this is the positive side of “distractible.” Her spontaneous and versatile nature causes her to want to see and talk to everyone she can(and not miss out on any opportunity), but eventually she always ends up back with the people she cares most about.
Type Eight: The Challenger / Leader / Asserter
Nick Watterson, sophomore: “I’d be at the party, participating but not to the point of danger, people-watching and laughing, ready to break up any fights or over-aggressive shoving.”
Eights are self-confident, decisive, powerful, dominating, willful, and confrontational. Nick dwells confidently at a party, watching others, laughing, and prepared to deal with any conflict. He is a leader in most situations, ready to step in if needed. He fully participates in the party activities as long as they aren’t stupid or life-threatening. Eights have a strong sense of self-preservation and survival, and usually keep clear heads in such situations,.
Type Nine: The Peacemaker
Alexis Smith, senior: “I’m not normally one who attends parties of any sort simply because I tend to be more reserved. I’m not a big fan of crowds so generally I stay to the edge of groups or off by the food because that is usually off to the side. I would also probably find another person who is standing off to the side by themselves to talk to.”
Nines are easygoing, reassuring, complacent, self-effacing, receptive, and agreeable. They can be very introverted, but they are always in pursuit of peace and harmony, desiring wholeness and avoiding conflict at all costs. Alexis’s conflict-avoidance comes into play with her avoidance of crowds and parties. She pursues peace and harmony by making an effort to talk to others who are standing alone, playing the role of includer and trying to make everyone happy.
My personal favorite free Enneagram test can be found at https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/dotest.
The most fun descriptions of your types can be found at http://9types.com/descr/.
I encourage you to go take the Enneagram and learn more about you!