A Guide to Enneagram Wings: What Are They All About?

Wings: great when served deep-fried, paired with a tear-jerking ballad, or extended upon an intricate personality model to uncover your ego’s conscience (hint: what you’re about to learn). In short, Enneagram wings are important extensions of your core type, which provide more detail about your own unique, colorful personality.

For example, an individual who receives the following results below after taking our (free!) Enneagram test would have a complete Enneagram type of 6w7, as Type Six is their most pronounced core type, with the Seven as the stronger neighboring wing (instead of the Five).

(Pictured above: An example of a 6w7’s results, with tritype 684)

Let’s jump right in and take a closer look at how wings work within the Enneagram personality model, with plenty of examples.

How Wings Work

Enneagram types take off (pun intended) with influences from an adjacent type. For example, a Type Two (The Giver) could take the wing of the Type One (The Perfectionist) or Type Three (The Achiever). Some people have influences from both possible wings—however, there’s usually a stronger (i.e. dominant) wing. 

Your dominant wing finds its way into your Enneagram type and acts as a sidekick to all of your inner motivations and goals. Although wings are commonly referred to as ‘extensions’ or ‘helpers’, they hold great power to unlock the potential of your multifaceted personality. And that’s where the exciting part comes it—the ability to recognize your patterns and change them!

As for notation, Enneagram wings are officially referenced to (in addition to your main Enneagram type) as ‘[Core Enneagram Type Number]w[Wing Number]’. For example, “5w6” reads aloud as “Five Wing Six”. In this case, the core Enneagram type is Five, and the respective supporting wing is Six

The Importance of Understanding Wings

How much do Enneagram wings matter in comparison to your core type? It’s essential to understand the key ego fixations, motives, vices, and virtues of each Enneagram core type first before moving on to wings (and eventually tritypes, as well as fixes). 

By understanding wings, you can gain a clearer picture of what your inner motivations look like and how they emerge from your actions and thoughts. You’ll also be able to figure out which career paths align well with your interests and talents. On top of achieving your long-term career goals, you’ll also be able to explore potential lifestyles and environments in which you’d thrive in.

Although each of the nine Enneagram types can be influenced by both possible wings, there’s often a stronger one. It’s excessively rare—if not impossible—to have equally balanced wings. It’s just as difficult to find a perfectly balanced ambivert who scores precisely 50/50 on the Introversion–Extraversion scale. 

Differences Between Core Type and Wings

Can your Enneagram core type exist without its wings? 

Wings can be thought of as on a continuum, in line with your core Enneagram type. They’re attached to your core Enneagram type, which we discuss in more detail below: 

Your core Enneagram type (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9) sets the framework for your behaviors and thought patterns. Your wing, on the other hand, branches out from your Enneagram roots and gives it a spinoff. It’s similar to having a coffee with a vanilla or espresso shot—which makes it all the more interesting!

Examples of Wings and Behavior

Wings can significantly alter how behavior manifests in an individual. For example, a 3w2 would focus on getting ahead, aiming to acquire a fanbase or support network (the Two wing influence). The 3w4, in comparison, would primarily aim for originality and self-expression in their achievements.

The same core type that sports different wings results in different preferences under the same situation. For example, a 7w6 may opt for a career in stand-up comedy to combat their inner fears and anxieties with the Six wing. A 7w8, on the other hand, could gravitate towards travel blogging and explore the world while maintaining a large amount of creative freedom. 

You may have challenges distinguishing between two Enneagram types (with wings), in which the core Enneagram type and wing number is flipped, such as the 5w6 and the 6w5. It becomes more of a challenge if both numbers fall under the same triad (the Head triad, in this case). The 5w6 would place more value in their intellectual pursuits, whereas the 6w5 focuses on trying to eliminate their anxieties.

Brief Descriptions of the 18 Enneagram Types With Wings

What does each Enneagram type look like, with wings? Find your personal description in a nutshell:

1w9: Practical and meticulous perfectionists with a knack for catching inconsistencies in others’ reasoning and judgment. 

1w2: Socially aware activists and advocates who work tirelessly behind the scenes to uphold high safety standards for others.

2w1: Deeply empathetic and caring individuals who find fulfillment in others’ happiness and well-being. 

2w3: Outgoing and productive organizers who thrive on connecting people together and being part of a group. 

3w2: Socially-savvy and popular go-getters who enjoy meeting new people and networking events.

3w4: Driven and organized ‘boss’ always on the go with new business ideas and projects—who finds great joy in efficiency and rewards.

4w3: Charismatic and individualistic artist with a sense of wonder about the underlying beauty in nature, as well as the spectrum of human emotions. 

4w5: Intense and artistic creator on a mission to use self-expression to highlight the universality of the human condition. 

5w4: Idiosyncratic (and often autodidactic) lone ranger who deeply values autonomy and mastery in a subject.

5w6: Detached and curious researcher who gains energy from digging into fascinating topics, under the radar.

6w5: Resourceful and dutiful team worker who highly values security and knowledge, often with a great sense of humor. 

6w7: Optimistic and fun-loving explorers of life with a (somewhat contradictory) need for safety and comfort. 

7w6: Happy-go-lucky and humorous experience junkie who is always on the search for new projects to undertake. 

7w8: Creative and innovative entrepreneur who enjoys experimenting and creating with new mediums and ideas.

8w7: Headstrong and confident self-starter who works hard and plays hard—paired with a fearless attitude. 

8w9: Servant leader who keeps others’ best interests in mind to preserve harmony and gently encourages them to take action.

9w8: Independent yet calm vagabond on a (rather quiet) mission to discover what makes society a kinder and more accepting place. 

9w1: Collected and pragmatic saver who value both cooperation and justice, along with the feeling of being connected to others in their community.

When instinctual variants (six different stackings) are taken into account, this leads to 108 (18 Enneagram types with wings x 6 instinctual stackings) possible combinations. Add tritypes (108 tritypes x 18 per each core type) on top of everything, and this number climbs up to a whopping 1944. 

It’s anything but cut-and-dried—and only covers the basic gist of the Enneagram. There are numerous extensions of the Enneagram, such as alternative triads, instinctual variants (as mentioned above), tritypes, and many more. Ready for take-off?

In Summary: The Takeaway

  • Each Enneagram type has two adjacent wings

  • One of the adjacent wings is more dominant than the other

  • Wings can be thought to be on a continuum, rather than a fixed label

  • Your behavior and personality are influenced by wings

  • There are 18 Enneagram descriptions with core type and wings 

  • In total, there exists 1944 possible wing-tritype-instinctual variant combinations 

Are you familiar with the wing system? How do you differ from a person with the same core Enneagram type as you, but taking the alternative wing? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Lily Yuan

Lily Yuan is a personality psychology writer who tests as INTP and constantly questions her type. Learn more and reach out at www.lily-yuan.com.

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