What Happens if Your Myers/Briggs and Enneagram Personalities Seem Completely at Odds with Each Other?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on August 05, 2022

If you already know your 16-type personality code, you might feel confident enough to predict the outcome of your Enneagram test—and vice versa.

This is not a sure thing, however. While certain Myers and Briggs personality system and Enneagram categories have clear overlap, your Enneagram and TypeFinder tests could produce results that seem conflicting or contradictory. This happens, and it probably happens more often than you would suspect.

But why? That’s an obvious question, and there are good answers that can explain why your Enneagram number may seemly be at odds with your Myers and Briggs testing results.

Comparing the Enneagram and 16-type Personality Systems

Your Enneagram and Myers and Briggs personality types each describe a set of personality characteristics that are fixed and recurrent and produce predictable responses to certain situations. Your identity in each system shapes your perspective on the world, determining how you will react to events that happen to you or around you.

They also help explain your reactions to your own reactions. In other words, the Enneagram and 16-type systems each cover the self-reflective aspects of your mental life, describing fundamental influences that determine how you perceive yourself and how you contextualize or interpret your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Another meaningful similarity is that you can use the insights you obtain from studying your Enneagram and 16-type results to customize your personal self-development program. Understanding your personality types will help you recognize your vulnerabilities and weaknesses as well as your strengths and motivations. You can then choose the most appropriate self-development strategies for a person with your characteristics, strategies that will address all the potential problem areas that can prevent you from reaching your full potential.

In most instances, you’ll get better results if you use your Enneagram number and/or your TypeFinder four-letter designation to guide your life improvement plans. Each system is rigorous enough and thorough enough to capture a significant sampling of what excites you, scares you, inspires you, or distracts you. Through each system you can delve more deeply into the subtle or hidden aspects of your personality, perhaps recognizing the texture and depth they add to your perspectives for the first time.

Major difference in approach

However, there is a fundamental difference between the Enneagram and Myers and Briggs approaches to personality typing that cannot be overlooked. It is this difference that explains why some people attain test results on the two systems that seem inconsistent, or at least curious or unexpected.

Once you have your four-letter code identified, what you’ll discover is a deep pool of personality traits and characteristics that emerge from the interplay of the four functions included in each specific type. So the INFJ, for example, is an Introvert with Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging functions that all influence the development of their self-image and determine how they relate to other people and the world.

A 16-type personality profile is highly detailed and comprehensive, and provides you with an analytical framework that has both predictive and descriptive power.

In contrast, the Enneagram looks beyond the personality profile to plumb the depths of the psyche, in search of primary motivations and the emotional needs that animate them.

Your Enneagram type identifies an overarching theme or perspective that can explain your thinking and behavior at a foundational level. If you are a Type 4 Individualist, for example, you’re always motivated by a powerful need to create a distinct and unique identity for yourself. Regardless of your other interests or aggregate personality characteristics, or your 16-type personality, your desire to be an authentic, one-of-a-kind individual and not just one of the crowd will exert its influence.

The two personality typing systems measure two separate aspects of personality. They cannot therefore produce contradictory results, even if it might appear so on the surface.

A Case Study: The Enneagram 2 Who is Also an INTJ

Personality is more multilayered and complex than it might appear on the surface. The following example will help illustrate this truth, by revealing how surface appearances can be deceiving when comparing Enneagram and Myers-Briggs results.

Suppose an INTJ who decided to take the Enneagram test was identified as a Type 2 Giver. The Type 2 is known for their unfailing generosity and determination to help others and be judged as a caring person. INTJs, on the other hand, are known as analytical and independent problem-solvers who rely on logic to navigate their way through the world. They can be quite demanding in their relationships and are often wary of the way others rely on emotions rather than logic.

Given these descriptions, the INTJ label might seem totally inconsistent with an Enneagram 2 identity. After all, the INTJ is known as the Mastermind, and one wouldn’t normally associate being a Mastermind with also being a Giver.

But the apparent conflict is resolved when it is realized that the INTJ Mastermind can display their orientation in a broad range of contexts.

They may be deeply motivated by compassion and charitable desires, which will cause them to put their problem-solving skills and relentless devotion to logic to work in a humanitarian context. They might be genuinely excited to see their loved ones and other deserving souls find success and happiness, and gain great joy from using their talents to help them achieve their dreams. Their INTJ’s independent streak may emerge when they’re told that the social, economic, humanitarian, or educational goals they support are lost causes. They may reject this as negative thinking, and set out to show everyone they know that they can surmount the obstacles and accomplish the impossible.

All of this is consistent with the Giver Type 2 mentality. If they possess the characteristics of the typical INTJ that will be reflected in their behavior as well, but their need to be recognized as kind, caring, and loving won’t be erased by their dedication to logic. Their primary motivation (Enneagram) will give their personality characteristics (16 types) a unique flavor, one that will shine through the behavioral habits and thinking patterns that clearly identify them as an INTJ.

Other examples of unlikely Enneagram and Briggs and Myers pairings could be similarly deconstructed. As an identifier of primary motivations, the Enneagram system offers surprising flexibility in a 16-type context, and no matter how eye-opening a pairing might be your eyes will open even wider with comprehension once the complementary and integrated nature of the relationship between the Enneagram and 16 type systems becomes clear.

Shine Like the Diamond You Are

One way to view yourself in the context of personality testing is as a multifaceted diamond. Each of your outer faces shines with a distinct intensity and aura, and your priceless nature emerges from the combined impact of all of them (four of them in the case of the 16-type system, which represents the diamond faces in this analogy).

But below the faces there lies a solid inner core (representing the Enneagram) that provides structure and identity.  In the diamond and in personality testing the inner body and the outer faces complement each other marvelously and are part of a greater whole, and it is important to note the incredible diversity that emerges from this unity.

Like the proverbial snowflakes no two cut diamonds are ever exactly alike, as they display many subtle variations in size, geometrical shape, and color. The core of a particular diamond has an essential identity that it shares with other diamond cores, but the outer appearances of any two diamonds will be quite different nonetheless—just as the Enneagram 4 who is also an ENFJ will be quite different from a Type Four who is an ISTP, and so on down the line for all potential Enneagram and 16-type combinations.  

With your 16-type personality and Enneagram type identified, you’ll be in possession of a treasure trove of valuable insights that can tell you who you are and why you think, act, and react the way you do. Variations between the two types highlight your complexity as a human being, and there is no reason you should have to choose one system over the other just because one appears to describe you better at first consideration.

So to answer the question that forms the title of this article, what happens if your Briggs/Myers and Enneagram personalities seem completely at odds with each other? What should happen is that you should feel thankful, since you’ve been given such a wonderful range of interesting details and fascinating facts about yourself to contemplate and consider.

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.

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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

Nataly (not verified) says...

As an ESTP 5w6 i definitely can relate to having completely mismatched enneagram /MBTI types, and it took me forever to find out what they were. I just didn't understand why i wasn't like other ESTPs, even tho i knew that was my type. this article is a good way of introducing that to people!

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