I don't know about you, but I never met a personality test I couldn't wait to take. Sure, they're not always foolproof — but taking these tests and reading the results offers an important opportunity for introspection. Naturally, my interest was piqued when I learned about the Enneagram System. The test, which can be taken through the Enneagram Institute, identifies nine "basic personality types," although it's common to see a little bit of yourself in each of the nine.
According to the Enneagram Institute, the majority of researchers agree that every person is born with a dominant type that influences how we adapt to our environments. By the age of 4 or 5, children begin finding their own ways of fitting into the world. As we all know, people can change and remake themselves — but they don't shift from one basic personality type to another.
In addition to identifying four key traits for each personality type, the Enneagram places a strong focus on how each personality type copes with feelings such as anger and shame.
Although I found the Enneagram Test to be accurate, it's also important to note that not every aspect of our basic personality type will apply to us all the time because "you fluctuate constantly among the healthy, average, and unhealthy traits that make up your personality type," according to the Enneagram Institute. Here are the nine basic personality types and what each means.
One (The Reformer)
The four defining traits of a "one" are principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionist. Ones often repress anger and other instinctual energies because they put extreme pressure on themselves to always remain in control.
Two (The Helper)
Twos are generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive. It's deeply important for them to feel that they are well-liked and regarded as good people. Twos also put pressure on themselves to be as "good" and "loving" as possible, which often leads them to repressing feelings of anger and resentment.
Three (The Achiever)
Threes are adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious. They combat underlying feelings of shame and inadequacy by doing everything in their power to achieve their goal of becoming a successful person. Perfectionism is, in a sense, their coping mechanism when faced with fears of shame and failure.
Four (The Individualist)
The defining traits of fours are expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental. Fours are the most likely to be affected by feelings of inadequacy, and they cope by placing a strong focus on convincing themselves and others that they are unique and talented. They also use their creativity to form "fantasy lives" that are a sharp contrast to their own lives, which they often perceive as boring and unglamorous.
Five (The Investigator)
Fives are perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated. Fearful that they'll be unable to cope with the outside world, they tend to withdraw and isolate. Although they aspire to be "part" of the outside world, they never feel confident enough to fully participate.
Six (The Loyalist)
The defining traits of a six are engageing, responsible, anxious, and suspicious. Sixes often experience high levels of anxiety and struggle to find confidence. Due to this lack of confidence, they'll often seek reassurance through authority figures, jobs, relationships, and faith — but despite these "security structures," they remain anxious.
Seven (The Enthusiast)
Sevens are spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, and scattered. They cope with anxiety, pain, and other unpleasant emotions by staying busy and pursing one adventure after another. Sevens feel the need to always stay busy and engaged and have an adventure to look forward to.
Eight (The Challenger)
Eights are self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational. Unlike other personality types, eights express their anger and act on their instinctual energies. They often act on their anger swiftly by raising their voices and moving forcefully.
Nine (The Peacemaker)
Nines are receptive, reassuring, complacent, and resigned. Out of all the personality types, they are the most out of touch with anger and instinctual energies. They cope with these emotions by pushing them away and instead focusing on the positive aspects of their lives and relationships, often by creating idealized views of what they do have.