Enneagram test: What is the personality test taking over social media and how do I take it?

If you've seen the word 'Enneagram' floating around, no, it's not another spelling of angiogram: it's a personality test that's going gangbusters on social media, with #Enneagram amassing almost 400 million views on TikTok alone. 

Named after the geometric figure, the Enneagram of Personality - mostly referred to as the Enneagram - is a description of the human psyche, dividing humanity into nine different but interconnected personality types.

Having been used by psychiatrists since the 1970s, companies are now adopting the Enneagram as a tool to determine the best collaborative approaches for their staff and how workers can improve their performance. On an individual level, the test is designed to help people better understand themselves and what motivates their behaviours. 

Research in the American Journal of Psychiatry defines the system as "a personality theory describing nine strategies by which the psyche develops a worldview and relates to self and others".  According to researchers, the theory "proposes that by adulthood, individuals have developed a predominant personality strategy to cope with the external environment".

The nine personality types are as follows: Type 1, The Reformer, also known as The Perfectionist; Type 2, The Giver, also known as The Helper; Type 3, The Achiever; Type 4, The Individualist; Type 5, The Investigator; Type 6, The Sceptic, also known as The Loyalist; Type 7, The Enthusiast; Type 8, The Challenger; and Type 9, The Peacemaker. 

Despite its popularity, like other personality tests - think Myers-Briggs - or astrology (Virgo Sun, Taurus Moon, Virgo Rising over here), there are plenty who question its accuracy. A review of 104 independent studies found Enneagrams have mixed evidence of reliability and validity.

However, some human behaviour specialists believe the Enneagram is worth investigating. Speaking to The Project, Hayden Brown said the test shouldn't be dismissed, noting it can offer some insight into our behaviour and the workings of our mind. 

"One of the great things about the Enneagram test is that through childhood, we develop strategies and coping mechanisms that help us navigate the world - and that informs our strengths and weaknesses," he said.

"It's important to recognise, maybe in many circumstances in our life these symptoms are accurate, but using that as a tool rather than buying into a label exclusively."

The test takes roughly 10 to 15 minutes to complete and involves around 100 questions that ask for your opinion on each statement, with multiple choice answers of Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree and Strongly Agree. 

What does each Enneagram personality type mean? 

According to the Enneagram Institute, here are brief overviews of each of the nine personality types:

  1. The Reformer
    The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic
  2. The Helper
    The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
  3. The Achiever
    The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
  4. The Individualist 
    The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
  5. The Investigator
    The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
  6. The Loyalist
    The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
  7. The Enthusiast
    The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
  8. The Challenger
    The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
  9. The Peacemaker
    The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent.
Enneagram 9 Personality Types Diagram Vector - stock illustration
The Enneagram nine Personality Types Diagram Vector. Photo credit: Getty Images

But whether you're intense, fun, or just a bit weird, there are differing opinions on whether it's helpful to be put in a box. A bit like saying, 'Oh, I'm a Virgo, that's why I take so long to do the simplest task', placing ourselves within a set category can be to our detriment, potentially restricting our growth or limiting ourselves to the confines of said 'type'. 

"A lot of these assessments can be a little bit misleading or a 'one-size-fits-all' approach, putting us in a box to a degree," Brown noted. 

"But I think any time we are doing an assessment or any form of reflective awareness to understand who we are and how we show up, we can learn more about ourselves and target the areas we want to grow in."

How to determine your Enneagram type

The best way to determine your Enneagram type is through a test or assessment. There are many available online, but Ian Morgan Cron - a psychotherapist, Enneagram teacher, and author - told Forbes that for the most thorough analysis, you can pay to take the Integrative Enneagram Questionnaire (iEQ9), which takes about 30 minutes and consists of 175 questions. 

Also speaking to Forbes, mental health counsellor Kelly Gregory recommended the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) through The Enneagram Institute or the Quick Enneagram Sorting Test (QUEST). 

"Whatever test you take, it can be helpful to read about the types for which you scored highest and then identify which one resonates with you the most," she told the outlet.

There is also a free version of the test online at The Personality Lab, however the full report on your results is behind a paywall.