“I would like to know how to find my Enneagram type.”

Only a small subset of individuals who become interested in the Enneagram personality typing system will be forced to ask for this kind of advice. That’s because most people who take an online Enneagram test (or two, or three) are typed accurately and without confusion or ambiguity.

But sometimes things don’t go so smoothly. On occasion a person who takes multiple Enneagram tests will get varying results, telling them they fit in one category one time and in a different one the next.

If Enneagram tests haven’t clearly and definitively identified your type, you can still figure it out on your own. You can do so by asking yourself some of the following nine questions, knowing that your answers will point you in the right direction.

Questions 1, 2, and 3: Are You a Heart, Head, or Body Type?

Under the Enneagram system, the nine types can be divided into three subsets known as centers of intelligence: the Heart types, the Head types, and the Body types. These first three questions will help you identify which center of intelligence you prefer, and this can narrow down your Enneagram type number.

#1 Which do you trust more, society’s standards or your own emotional instincts?

You might acquiesce to society’s standards most of the time. But in the end you will go wherever your feelings of empathy and compassion take you, even if the people around you don’t seem to be responding to the suffering of people or animals very strongly. You aren’t the type to accept rationalizations to explain away cruelty or neglect, and you won’t be fine with anyone’s needs being overlooked. You would feel guilty if you suppressed your empathy or failed to act on your compassion, regardless of the intellectual justifications society offers to explain away certain injustices either large or small.

If this describes you, it means you rely on your emotional reactions to guide you first and foremost. This means you can be classified as one of the three Enneagram Heart Types, Two, Three, or Four.

#2 Do you believe that looks can be deceiving?

One of your defining characteristics is your distrust of what appears on the surface. You assume nothing is exactly as it seems to be, and consequently you’re always looking to crack the code that will reveal deeper truths and increase your understanding of how the world really works. You trust your own analytical abilities in every situation, and are confident in your capacity to uncover unexplored opportunities for fun, learning, or personal growth.

These are characteristics associated with Head types, the intellectuals among us who rely on logic to see through the noise and confusion of everyday life. You don’t want to be misled or distracted by your emotions or instincts, but prefer to carve out an effective path in life by unleashing the power of your mind. If you’re a Head type, you’ll be either an Enneagram Five, Six, or Seven.

#3 Do your instinctive judgments sometimes lead you astray?

You’ve likely developed great trust in your instincts, and are confident in your ability to read other people’s intentions. But if you’re willing to look at your life history honestly, you’ll soon realize that your instinct-based interpretations of others’ behavior have not always been 100-percent accurate. There have undoubtedly been times when you’ve misjudged others or misread situations, perceiving negative intent or threats where neither actually existed. In some cases your instincts may have malfunctioned in the opposite direction, causing you to accept people at face value who were really trying to deceive you.

In the Enneagram system, people who rely on their instincts to guide them above all else are known as Body types (identified as Enneagram Types 8, 9, or 1). While your instincts may be finely honed and generally reliable, no one is infallible. As a Body type you’ve likely come to rely on your instincts or gut reactions a bit too much, which at times will prevent you from evaluating people’s words and deeds objectively.

Questions 4, 5, and 6: Finding Your Exact Enneagram Type

Now that you know where you fit in the Heart, Head, and Body schemata, we can move on to identifying your specific type. Among the following questions, number 4 is relevant to Heart types, number 5 to Head types, and number 6 to Body types:

#4 How do you think others see you?

You may think others perceive your generosity and unselfishness as your most distinctive trait. If so, this is a pretty good sign that you’re an Enneagram Two, designated as the Giver.

You want to make a profound and lasting impact on other peoples’ lives, and to be remembered best for your spontaneous acts of kindness. You’re the type who will give till it hurts, except in your case it never really hurts.

Alternatively, you may think others see you as a high achiever, as someone who is organized, focused and filled with boundless energy. They will admire you for these traits because you’re humble and always willing to share the credit for your successes, and also because you’re eager to help your companions achieve their dreams.

These are all characteristics associated with an Enneagram Three, a type known appropriately enough as the Achiever. As an Achiever you’re the kind of person who believes developing your own capacities is the best way to help others, since your personal empowerment will give you the inner strength you need to change the world.

If you believe others see you as someone who is independent, free-spirited, and not afraid to go against the grain, that is a strong indication that you’re an Enneagram Four, a type known as the Individualist.

As a Type Four Individualist your primary goal in life is to carve out a unique and singular identity that sets you apart from the crowd. You want others to do the same and are genuinely excited by their successes and achievements.

#5 Would you rather go to a party, engage in a one-on-one conversation, or read a book?

Do you see books as companions whose company you never fail to enjoy? If the answer is yes, that identifies you as an Enneagram Five, a type known as the Investigator.

You’re probably fine with socializing, to a certain extent. But you’ll enjoy it only in limited doses and will want to escape if you feel overexposed or overstimulated. In contrast, you’ll never get tired of reading, contemplating, or creating, since you feel most at home and at peace when you’re exercising your mind or broadening your knowledge and comprehension.

If your preference is for one-on-one conversations, you’re likely an Enneagram Six, which is also known as the Skeptic. As a born skeptic you expect people to prove their trustworthiness. But once they do you’ll be their faithful companion for life.

You treasure friends and family members who are helpful, dependable, and loyal, and you’ll always make an effort to return their considerate behavior in kind. You’ll like to spend as much time as possible cultivating close and intimate relationships with those individuals.

Enneagram Sevens are known as the Enthusiasts, and as a result of their zest for living they’re frequently known as the life of the party.

If you enjoy spending hours in the company of loved ones playing games, listening to or dancing to music, or engaging in any type of fun and revelry you can think of, you fit the Type Seven template to perfection. You may or may not enjoy attending parties with strangers, but when friends and family are involved you’ll be the first one through the door and one of the last ones to leave.

#6 How do you react to conflict or heated disagreement?

When you’re exposed to conflict, your first instinct may be to jump in and support the side you believe is right.

If this is the response an argument or dispute provokes, it’s a good indication that you’re an Enneagram Eight, a type that is designated as the Challenger. Conflict doesn’t scare you, because you’re confident in your opinions and won’t pass up an opportunity to stand up for what is just and fair.

Conversely, you may be totally appalled by conflict, to the point where it makes you feel ill. When exposed to arguments of any type you may feel a powerful urge to intervene as a mediator, who will help the warring parties resolve their differences.

These are the characteristics of an Enneagram Nine, a category that has been labeled the Peacemaker. You don’t see conflict as having any upside, and your gut instinct is to step in and interrupt it as quickly as possible.

Your other possible reaction to conflict is annoyance. You may see ongoing disputes as synonymous with chaos, disorder, and inefficiency. From your perspective, contentious disagreement could be dangerous because it undermines consensus and effective teamwork.

This is the response of an Enneagram One, who is also known as the Perfectionist. You can’t abide by disorganization, and that’s why you’ll attempt to stop conflicts if you’re in a position to do so. 

Why Knowing Your Enneagram Type Matters

The Enneagram typing system isn’t trying to measure every aspect or facet of your personality. What it does is identify an underlying motivational factor that is ubiquitous and ever-present.

This meta-motivation, as we might call it, may sometimes be obvious and other times lurk in the shadows, asserting its influence more subtly. But it will always be there, and you should be able to identify it in your most self-aware and self-reflective moments. It will impact the way you interpret events, while determining what you always notice and what you frequently overlook. It will shape your perspectives and your behavior and govern your reactions to other people.

In short, your prime motivation will be the one characteristic you possess that provides a context or framework for everything you think and do—and as a consequence, knowing your Enneagram type is the same as knowing yourself.

No personality test can capture or reveal your individual uniqueness in its entirety. That part of you is irreducible and will always belong to you exclusively. But the Enneagram does provide you with invaluable insights that can help you choose a wiser and more productive path, or verify that the path you’ve already chosen is the best one for you.

Nathan Falde
Nathan Falde has been working as a freelance writer for the past six years. His ghostwritten work and bylined articles have appeared in numerous online outlets, and in 2014-2015 he acted as co-creator for a series of eBooks on the personality types. An INFJ and a native of Wisconsin, Nathan currently lives in Bogota, Colombia with his wife Martha and their son Nicholas.