4 Lesser-Known Personality Tests to Explore

The classic Myers-Briggs 16-type personality test is one of the most popular and renowned personality profiling systems. With over 88 percent of the Fortune 500 currently using it, it holds the crown as the choice questionnaire for people development and team-fit processes worldwide.

But, as freakishly accurate as this test can be, you’ll get a much more holistic breakdown of your personality as well as the individual traits that influence it when you combine the 16-type with other tests. Since personality psychology is extremely complex and multifaceted, one test cannot tell all there is to your identity.

Whether it’s team formation, relationship building, or personal curiosity (yes, looking at you!), personality tests have many useful real-world applications, which can guide you on your journey to personal fulfillment.

The Enneagram Type Indicator

Conceptualized and derived from the early teachings of Claudio Naranjo and Oscar Ichazo, this nine-pointed dreamcatcher-like Enneagram maps out the primary mottos, motivators, fears, vices, virtues, and ego fixations behind the actions and behavior of each individual.

Its geometric structure traces back all the way to the mathematical Pythagorean era (approximately), and has striking similarities to various religious symbols. Energy is displaced based upon your core motives and desires, which is then reflected in your behavior.

The official Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI v2.5) is a choice-based test with 144 paired statements.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the nine roles (and each core motive):

  • 1 - The Reformer (Principles)
  • 2 - The Helper (Relationships)
  • 3 - The Achiever (Status)
  • 4 - The Individualist (Self-Expression)
  • 5 - The Investigator (Understanding)
  • 6 - The Loyalist (Security)
  • 7 - The Enthusiast (Experience)
  • 8 - The Challenger (Competition)
  • 9 - The Peacemaker (Mediation)

There are extensions, or “wings” that further elaborate upon how intricate your personality could be, and these can be either one of the neighbouring types — this is called a ‘subtype’.

For instance, an Achiever with Helper tendencies translates to the 3W2. This would look significantly different from a 3W4, which has individualist tendencies. It’s also possible to stick strictly to one role and lean toward neither wing.

In contrast to the 16-type indicator which focuses on personal judgement and perception, the Enneagram emphasizes how each of the nine types (or eighteen total subtypes) handles personal vices and deals with pain points, as well as emotive and thought patterns.

While the MBTI may describe your outlooks and choices, the Enneagram can help uncover core motivations that drive your hopes and fears. A great application of the Enneagram is solving your internal and external conflicts with more clarity by understanding exactly what makes you tick. It’s like doing intensive detective work within yourself!

Instinctual Variants Test

With blocks arranged as a hierarchical stack, the three Instinctual Variants (Self-Preserving, Sexual, and Social) effectively expand upon the Enneagram. The official Instinctual Variants Questionnaire (IVQ v2.0) is a choice-based inventory with 37 sets containing three statements each.

There’s a focus question each type aims to align with their actions:

Self-preserving (SP):

“How can I conserve my own energy and resources for the future and live securely?”

Common topics of discussion with SP-firsts involve finance, food, clothing, real estate, interior design, and home decor. They may relish in lavish lifestyles and indulgence under extreme stress.

Sexual (SX):

“How can I achieve inner satisfaction through the intensity and merging of my energy with another (person/object/passion) into one?”

Personal likes, tastes, fantasies, desires, dreams, and gleaming visions for the future are what SX-firsts bring to the table. The intense, inward-facing energy can appear to the outer world as brooding or rumination.

Social (SO):

“How can I better facilitate the functions of my group and understand where we stand in society, together?”

Politics, relationships, friendships, family, social gatherings, trends, and global news are a few of the many topics SO-firsts enjoy discussing. They seek to figure out exactly how they fit as a puzzle piece in the world around them.

These three blocks then turn into six combinations (the final block is usually omitted):

  • SP/SO
  • SP/SX
  • SX/SP
  • SX/SO
  • SO/SP
  • SO/SX

The primary stack will come intuitively — and is comparable to the primary function in the Briggs and Myers system. The second piece is called the helper, and the final one is known as the blind spot (the ‘area of neglect’...or perhaps the root of bad decisions).

Socionics

If the 16-type indicator had a slightly wacky and soft-spoken cousin, then Socionics is its name. Conceptualized in the 1970s by Lithuanian Aushra Augusta, this test takes a unique approach on the original 16 types. It combines Model A (of the psyche) with a model of interpersonal relations.

While the 16-type system uses eight cognitive functions to determine type, Socionics enters the scene and bridges psychology and sociology, hence its name. The ‘Thinking’ function is translated to ‘Logic’, and ‘Feeling’ is to ‘Ethics’ — another key difference in naming.

Instead of focusing on the individuals themselves, it sheds light on interpersonal relations (in sociological terms, that would be symbolic interactionism). Socionics combines the classic four Jungian and the following 11 Reinin scales:

  • Static — Dynamic
  • Positivist — Negativist
  • Asking — Declaring
  • Tactical — Strategic
  • Constructivist — Emotivist
  • Result — Process
  • Yielding — Obstinate
  • Carefree — Farsighted
  • Judicious — Decisive
  • Aristocracy — Democracy
  • Merry — Serious

Eight functional positions (leading, creative, role, vulnerable, suggestive, mobilizing, observant, demonstrative) are present instead of the classic four (dominant, auxiliary, tertiary, inferior) in the 16-type system.

The results from the Socionics test are known as ‘Sociotypes’, and focus upon Freudian values of ego, superego, id, and superid blockages — using the original Jungian typology as a base to build upon.

The Big 5

As one of the most popular industrial-organizational hiring tools, the Big 5 traits-based test lives up to its name. It’s essentially an empirical coordinate system that translates answers into useful numbers or statistics.

These iconic five pillars (taking OCEAN acronym) are:

  • Openness (Novelty, Creativity, Exploration)
  • Conscientiousness (Responsibility, Goal-Setting, Focus)
  • Extraversion (Sociability, Outwardness, Expansion)
  • Agreeableness (Diplomacy, Trust, Warmth)
  • Neuroticism (Turbulence, Stress, Instability)

The 16-type system and the Big 5 have very clear links: Agreeableness for Feeling, Conscientiousness for Judging, Openness for Intuition, and Neuroticism for Turbulence. What’s the major difference between them? Their framework: the type theory versus the trait theory.

You can take the combined Big 5 + Holland Code test for free right here at Truity! It consists of 60 questions (completed in around 15 minutes). You also have the option to purchase the full report for even more valuable insights.

Closing Thoughts

The world of personality tests is a vast and ever-expanding one. It can be challenging to wrap your head around the functionalities of each system at first (all of those terms and graphs, ahem).

As our personalities are being moulded by technology, it’s easier than ever to gain a better understanding of ourselves. While some traits may be biologically innate; others could be moulded through our later-day social interactions and first-hand experiences.

The Enneagram, Instinctual Variants, Socionics, and Big 5 are all fantastic personality test resources to further expand your self-knowledge. It may even open some new doors, to your surprise!

Lily Yuan

Lily Yuan is a minimalist with a knack for just missing the bus. She tests as INTP and constantly questions her type. Learn more at www.lily-yuan.com.

Comments

Danica (not verified) says...

Very interesting, especially Socionics.

JOHN (not verified) says...

I'm definitely the Investigator 

PIERRE HENRI (not verified) says...

I FELT DRAWN TO THIS ARTICLE BECAUSE I SHARE ITS PREMISE ABOUT THE RICHNESS AND COMPLEXITY OF THE HUMAN PERSONALITY. I HAVE USED MANY APPROACHES TO PERSONALITY, WHEN WORKING, AND STILL RELY ON VARIOUS ONES, IN RETIREMENT.

I WAS SURPRIDED TO NOTE THAT YOUR COVERAGE OF THE ENNEAGRAM FAILED TO INTRODUCE ITS FULL CONTRIBUTION TO THE TOPIC AND THAT YOU MENTION AS SEPARATE FROM IT THE THREE INSTINCTUAL DRIVES, WHILE THEY FORM A FONDAMENTAL COMPONENT OF THE ENNEAGRAM OF THE PERSONALITY.

"MYERS-BRIGGS 16 TYPES," AS AN UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN PERSONALITY, HAVE CONTRIBUTED A LOT TO THE FIELD. WHAT I WOULD HAVE LIKE TO, AT LEAST, BE INCLUDED IS WHAT DAVID KEIRSEY HAS DONE AFTERWARD WITH THEM. IN MY PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE WITH HIS FUNDAMENTAL REVISION OF THE M-B SYSTEM, IT IS WAY MORE ACCURATE AND USEFUL.

I APPRECIATE BEING INTRODUCED TO "SOCIONICS," WHICH IS NEW FOR ME.

Jacob M (not verified) says...

Very informative. In the business world today there are many types of tests. What I find very useful is the DISC and the Emotional Intelligence tests.

Blair Hollis M.A. GCDF BCCC (not verified) says...

I would agree that one assessment intstrument alone is insufficient to offer us accurate self-portraits. While corporations use the MBTI in workshop settings to, among other things, reveal work place blindspots, I use a sophisticated leadership abilities battery that offers a cognitive profile that differentates how individuals differ in their decision-making, team development approach and how they process interpersonal dynamics. 

So, think of the integration of assessments as tools to reveal facets of "who" we are (identity development) so clients can fine-tune an authentic view of their "ideal self." Augmenting flaws reveal in the Enneagram in concert with the MBTI Step II of Truity instrument offers a broader understranding of our potential and capacity to connect with others. Importantly, if we hope to find joy in life, then personal and profesional development platforms offer a mechanism to attune our uniqueness so that "what" we do has meaning.

I'm FiNe (not verified) says...

Another model within the Enneagram umbrella is the Tritype model.  It posits that the individual is more complex than having simply the primary (core) type which falls within one of the three Triads: Gut (Types 1, 8, 9), Heart (Types 2, 3, 4), and Head (Types 5, 6, 7).  It suggests that individuals have a dominant component from each Triad that describe motivational patterns.

I identify as a Type 4w5 (Inidividualist, Bohemian type).  My Tritype is 4w5-1-6w5, or usually simply stated as 4-1-6.  That's 4 from the Heart Triad, 1 from the Gut Triad, and 6 from the Head triad.

It has been observed that people who share the common elements of a Tritype tend to behave and have motivations more similarly motivated than people who share a common core type but have different predilections in the other two Triads.  This has led to a model of Tritype Archetypes that share the same three types (order notwithstanding).  The 1-4-6 Archetype (my 4-1-6 falls into this archetype because it shares those three types), for example, has been dubbed The Philosopher.  There are 27 possible combinations that include three valid types from each Triad (again, order notwithstanding) or 27 Archetypes.

I have found that the Enneagram system (including wings, Tritype, and instinctual stacks) requires the most work to really understand oneself.  An instrument may be a good starting point, but it took me about 6 months of reading, watching You Tube videos, and introspection to come to the point that it did describe me best.  It has been offered that people of Type 9 and Type 6 core types might have the most difficult time in coming to acceptance of their type because of the internal mind games each is prone to fall into.

The Big 5 is the only personality assessment that I am aware of that modern psychologists place any validity in (despite statistcal support of translating the 4 MBTI dichotomies into OCEA--N and emotionality is not part of the MBTI--spectra: Openness to S/N, Conscientiousness to P/J, Extraversion to E/I, and Agreeableness to T/F.  The same system also exists under the identity of SLOAN, providing names for both ends of the 5 continua.  The Big 5 distinguishes itself from MBTI in that preferences are shown along a continuum for each of the 5 facets with percentages provided.

Jackie Yeh (not verified) says...

I think you chose the best personality tests out there for people to take! Good job!

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