Definition and Meaning

The Enneagram is a system of personality which describes people in terms of nine types, each with their own motivations, fears, and internal dynamics.

The Enneagram is an emotionally focused system of understanding people — honing in on one’s core emotional motivations and fears. Each of the nine personality types has its own driving force, which is centered around a particular emotion.

Some Enneagram types experience strong emotions, while other types aim to avoid emotions in one form or another. However, whether running from emotions or diving into them, each type describes some aspect of emotional experience.

What is your Enneagram type? Take our free Enneagram test!

The nine types of the Enneagram are divided among Heart Types, Head Types, and Body Types.

  • Heart types depend on their emotional intelligence to understand their own reactions and connect with others.
  • Head types depend on their intellectual intelligence to make sense of things and navigate the world around them.
  • Body types depend on their instinctual intelligence to follow their "gut" and respond to threats and opportunities.

The Heart Types of the Enneagram

Heart types react with emotions first. They connect with other people on an empathetic level, and make sense of the world by understanding their feelings about it. These types are guided by the feelings connected to their emotional relationships with other people. They value things such as emotional support, recognition, and inclusion. Types Two, Three and Four are the heart, or feeling, centered Enneagram types.

Type Two

The Giver

Twos want to be liked and find ways that they can be helpful to others so that they belong. This type fears being unlovable. Read more about Twos.

Type Three

The Achiever

Threes want to be successful and admired by other people, and are very conscious of their public image. Type Threes fear failure and not being seen as valuable by other people. Read more about Threes.

Type Four

The Individualist

Fours want to be unique and to experience deep, authentic emotions. Type Fours fear they are flawed and are overly focused on how they are different from other people. Read more about Fours.

The Head Types of the Enneagram

Head types react with analysis first. They connect with other people on an intellectual level, and make sense of the world by understanding the systems and theories that underlie what they observe. These types are primarily focused on control, which they gain by maintaining stability, security, and competence. Types Five, Six, and Seven are the head-centered Enneagram types.

Type Five

The Investigator

Fives seek understanding and knowledge, and are more comfortable with data than other people. The biggest fear of the Type Five is being overwhelmed by their own needs or the needs of other people. Read more about Fives.

Type Six

The Skeptic

Sixes are preoccupied with security, seek safety, and like to be prepared for problems. For the Type Six, the greatest fear is being unprepared and unable to defend themselves from danger. Read more about Sixes.

Type Seven

The Enthusiast

Sevens want to have as much fun and adventure as possible and are easily bored. Type Sevens fear experiencing emotional pain, especially sadness, and actively seek to avoid it by staying busy. Read more about Sevens.

The Body Types of the Enneagram

Body types react with an instinctive, gut feeling. They connect with other people based on their physical sense of comfort, and make sense of the world by sensing their body's reaction to what is happening. The primary drive for this triad is to maintain their independence and limit control from outside influences. They respond by being either overly controlling, overly passive, or overly perfectionistic. Types Eight, Nine, and One are the body, or gut, centered Enneagram types.

Type Eight

The Challenger

Eights see themselves as strong and powerful and seek to stand up for what they believe in. The greatest fear of the Type Eight is to be powerless, so they focus on controlling their environment. Read more about Eights.

Type Nine

The Peacemaker

Nines like to go with the flow and let the people around them set the agenda. Type Nines fear pushing people away by prioritizing their own needs, and they tend to be passive. Read more about Nines.

Type One

The Perfectionist

Ones place a lot of emphasis on following the rules and doing things correctly. Type Ones fear being imperfect and can be extremely strict with themselves and others. Read more about Ones.

About the Author

Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She founded Truity in 2012, with the goal of making quality personality tests more affordable and accessible. She has led the development of assessments based on Myers and Briggs' personality types, Holland Codes, the Big Five, DISC, and the Enneagram. She is an ENTP, a tireless brainstormer, and a wildly messy chef. Find Molly on Twitter at @mollmown.