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

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on October 27, 2019

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 Enneagram type, which provide more detail about your own unique, colorful personality.

For example, an individual who receives the following results 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).

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(Pictured above: An example of a 6w7’s results)

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

How Enneagram 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 Enneagram Wings

How much do Enneagram wings matter in comparison to your core type? Before moving on to wings, it’s essential to understand the key ego fixations, motives, vices, and virtues of each Enneagram core type. 

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. However, it's not especially comm. 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 values 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.

It’s anything but cut-and-dry — and only covers the basic gist of the Enneagram basics. There are numerous extensions of the Enneagram, such as alternative triads, instinctual variants (as mentioned above), 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 

Are you familiar with the Enneagram 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 at www.lily-yuan.com. Explore her blog at www.personality-psychology.com.

More from this author...
About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

Comments

PathSeeker says...

Type 5 here. What if I feel that my wings are equal?

Myrna (not verified) says...

That's a good thing! That means you use your wings in a balanced way! 

Ha Ha Ha (not verified) says...

Which means you are pretty much balance, but there's still be one slightly standing out. Do you find you a little bit more emotional(5w4) or safety goes first(5w6)? 

Ha Ha Ha (not verified) says...

Sorry just answering pathseeker

MarybethM (not verified) says...

"Hi, my name is Marybeth and I'm an idiosyncratic lone ranger!" <3 I cannot love that description enough. Thank you!

Alix (not verified) says...

Is it possible to have a wing that doesn't touch the core number? For example, I've done a few different enneagram tests and I keep getting type 2 with wing 1 and wing 6. 

Civvi (not verified) says...

What if I have no wings but still 2 very dominant traits? I get 90% or higher on 2 (always the highest) and 4 and 9

cronchavenue (not verified) says...

i would be a 2w8 if it was actually a thing; as an enfj-a that's what fits me best. what would be the closest thing to that? 3w4?

Laura (not verified) says...

Type 2's go to a 8 in stress. Look up Direction of Disintegration.

Guest (not verified) says...

The wings can only be from the adjacent numbers. But as a type 2, you will either grow towards a 4 in health or an 8 under stress. There are also the 3 subtypes of the enneagram, the counter-type, the social type, and the one on one type. I think the social subtype may have some connection to the type 8 as well. That may be why you are wondering if you have a 8 wing. But you would have to decide for yourself if that fits. 

Nene (not verified) says...

I got 5w9 plz help me what does that mean.

AJM (not verified) says...

My enneagram is a 6, but my next highest is a 9, my second highest is a 1, and then a 5. So, would I be a 6w9 then? I'm confused on how this works.

Malissa (not verified) says...

The enneagram is a bit more complicated than just being one type. Your wing is one of the two types next to your main type in the circle, so you cannot be a 6w9. But there are also areas of stress and areas of growth. If you are truly a 6, I would guess you are a 6w5 and the 9 comes into play when you are stressed. The 1 could be from the fact that 6s and 1s are both generally compliant types. With the 6s being more compliant to other people and 1s having a stronger set of personal convictions they follow. 

It is also possible you are really a 9w1 and the 6 comes out when you are under stress. Here is a site that goes into more detail about the areas of stress and growth and it also lets you compare common mis-types.

•v• (not verified) says...

Melissa, 6 only goes to 3 when stress. 

•v• (not verified) says...

Hi AJM, you are a growth 6, which is a good thing if 6 goes to the direction of 9, but remember 9 is not your wing. Stress 6 (which is unhealthy) will goes to 3. 

KermitYay (not verified) says...

I'm a bit confused because my wings don't match at ALL. I'm a 9 (98%) and 1 and 8 are my two lowest numbers, both being bellow 50%. Neither are good with me, with one being challenger (I'm so nonconfrontational that it's worrying, especially toward friends) and the other being perfectionist (I hold my self to high standards but could care less about rules and don't mind people breaking them). So what??? Do I do??? Neither fit me :(

Michaela (not verified) says...

Spot on 8W7

ENTJ

Thanks for the fun ?

Damien__ (not verified) says...

Hi, I don't know anything about this enneagram stuff but i got 5w7, but after googling it a lot of people say it isnt possible, how do i know what my actual result is??

•v• (not verified) says...

7 is not your wing, is your second highest score, but when 5 stress they'll go to the direction of 7.

dudet (not verified) says...

I am a seven with awing of 8 and 3... im confused as to how that works... so um ya lol

•v• (not verified) says...

That means you're 7w8! 3 is only the things that you got many thing same with 3 but doesn't mean you are 7w3.

I used to be a 7w8, but wing change as I grew up lol.(your wing can be change) 

I'm a 7w6, my test came out 9 comes right after 7, but that does not mean I am 7w9, it just everybody have all of them but the percentage problem...

7 is your motive, and eight is your behaviour. 

Mădălina Ciocan says...

I still don't understand how this works... Can someone explain me why my dominant wing or whatever that is is number 2 but my second most dominant wing is 6, definetly not 1 or 3 and 6 is almost at the same level as 2 and then my third wing is 7 which is really close to 6 so I could theoretically be a 6w7 BUT wing 2 is a little larger than these two, but just a bit, so what on Earth is my enneagram type then?! 2/6w7?? Please, I'm so confused

HeatherKoko (not verified) says...

Your wings are the types on either side of your primary type. If you are a type two, your wings are one and three. 

erno (not verified) says...

hi, in latest test scored tops with type9, then type5, then types6&4 were equal.. how does this work? erno

danny1234 (not verified) says...

Hi, I'm really confused. I took the Truity test and the highest compatibility is equal in type 1, 5, 6, and 8.

3 and 4 are slightly lower, and 2,7, and 9 are very low in comparison.

What would my type combination number be? 

Anonymous 8w7 (not verified) says...

Hi, I'm new to the enneagram, but I'm skeptical about why the wings have to be adjacent though. According to the graphic the site gives you, 8 is my highest but 7 looks to be tied for 5th. With the exception of 6 and 7, there seems to be massive contrast between consecutive numbers.

Share your thoughts

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