Survey data of 81,683 adults show how our Enneagram type is tied to our earning power and advancement at work.
The Enneagram is generally known as a tool of personal and spiritual development, allowing people to identify the lens through which they naturally view the world and better understand their core motivations and fears. But new evidence shows that your Enneagram type can be linked to how much money you make and whether or not you rise through the ranks at work.
A Truity survey of 81,683 adults between the ages of 26 and 45 found that the Enneagram Type Three (The Achiever) and Type Eight (The Challenger) are significantly more likely to have higher incomes and more senior job titles than the other Enneagram types. Conversely, those who are an Enneagram Type Four (The Individualist) are much more likely to be unemployed or earn a lower salary. The difference between the top earners (Threes) and the bottom earners (Fours) was a significant $35,146 in annual income!
Average Income by Enneagram Type
Key findings from the survey:
- Type Threes: Threes tie with Type Eights as the most likely to be in Director or Executive roles, with 19% of Threes reporting a Director or Executive job title compared to 10% across all Enneagram types. Only 3% reported an entry-level title, compared to 5% across all types. Threes are also significantly less likely to be unemployed, with only 3% reporting unemployment, compared to 8% across all types.
- Type Fours: Type Fours are most likely to report being unemployed or in an entry-level position. A notable 15% of Fours reported no current employment, compared to 8% across all types. Eight percent of Fours are in an entry-level role, compared to 5% for all types.
- Type Eights: Like Threes but not quite as pronounced, Type Eights are also less likely to report being unemployed — 5% of Eights reported unemployment compared to 8% for all types. However, Eights match Threes in advancement — with 19% of Eights in a Director or Executive role.
What accounts for the differences?
Certainly, a host of socio-economic factors play a role in one’s lifelong earning power — from gender and race to geography, education and experience. However, there is increasing evidence to suggest that an overlooked aspect of earning power may lie in your personality type.
As covered by CNBC, the World Economic Forum blog and Entrepreneur Magazine, a Truity survey of 72,331 participants showed how traits associated with the Myers and Briggs theory of personality are correlated to earning potential and career trajectory.
In addition, there is significant academic research on how Big Five personality traits are correlated with income levels and career advancement. But with new data suggesting that earning power may also be linked to Enneagram type, we have to wonder, what’s behind it?
"We know from our own surveying and study of the literature that personality traits correlate with predicted income and even career advancement, but we were surprised by the extent of correlation with the Enneagram," said Megan Malone, personality researcher at Truity.
While we don’t know the exact reasons — which are unique to each individual — we can make some informed hypotheses as to why these differences in income occur.
Why do some types earn less than others?
There are likely both psychological (like personality preferences and motivations) and external reasons (societal and workplace norms and expectations) why some types earn less on average. From a personality perspective, Enneagram Fours, the type with the lowest reported income on average ($54,051 per year), are often attracted to jobs that allow them to use their creative skills to make something new and may be less interested in climbing the corporate ladder.
“Fours can struggle with taking action, they prefer to spend time coming up with unique ideas or examining their feelings,” said Malone. “A major action like negotiating a pay raise can feel intimidating to this type. It’s also worth noting that our survey found that Fours reported the highest rate of unfulfillment with their work life.”
There’s also the argument that society places more monetary value on certain career fields than others. Enneagram Twos (The Giver) and Nines (The Peacemaker), who were also lower income earners, are often attracted to careers like teaching or social work, which are lower paying on average, while creative Type Fours are often drawn to the arts.
Another consideration is that money is simply not a strong motivator for all Enneagram types. Truity’s financial habits survey revealed that Fours and Nines are the types least likely to be motivated by money. These types may prioritize outside hobbies or passions over work or choose a lower-paying job that is fulfilling to them.
“It’s important to note that salary and career advancement aren’t the only measures of career success,” said Malone. “What is more important than striving for these things is identifying what matters most to you and basing your career goals and decisions around those priorities.”
What about the high earners?
Goal-oriented status seekers, Type Threes are significantly more likely to report contentment with their work life, with 46% of Threes reporting being “very fulfilled” by work compared to 32% across all types. And it’s no surprise that this type is also the highest earner. Truity’s financial habits survey showed that Threes are the most likely to report being “extremely motivated” by money.
“As the Achiever type, it’s no surprise that Threes are the most fulfilled by work and report the highest income,” said Malone. “External rewards are extremely motivating for a Three. This type is constantly looking for ways to prove their value. What’s more, Threes are likely to possess key leadership qualities, like confidence, adaptability and charisma, so they are often the natural pick for leadership positions at work.”
Confident and assertive Enneagram Eights are the second-highest earners on average and tie with Threes as the most likely type to hold a Supervisor or Director-level position.
“Eights are bold and decisive, and are often seen as natural leaders in the workplace,” said Malone. “They’re known for going after what they want — an Eight won’t be shy to ask for a raise or promotion if they believe they earned it. At their best, Eights will also use this skill to be a champion for others, and can help ensure others in their workplace or team are compensated fairly.”
Has personality been linked to earning power in the past?
The short answer is: yes. While it is certainly not the only factor impacting earning potential, there's an increasing amount of evidence suggesting that an overlooked aspect of earning power may lie in your personality type.
Want to learn more?
- Academic research on how Big Five personality traits are correlated with income levels and career advancement.
- A 2019 Truity survey on how the 16 types of the Myers and Briggs theory of personality are correlated to one’s earning potential and career trajectory.
- A 2021 Truity survey on how each Enneagram type handles stress.
- A Truity survey of more than 58,000 participants that explores how each Enneagram type approaches and manages their money (see Truity blog and coverage of the survey in Real Simple).
Not sure of your Enneagram type? Take Truity’s free test here.