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Enneagram typing: Determining type and its variations

The next step after gaining some familiarity with the Enneagram types is to find your own type and the type of others.

In Enneagram personality type parlance "typing" is the process of determining your type or someone else's type. This starts with trying to find basic type (i.e., which of the nine types is the best fit) but also variations of type defined by wing, instinct, and tritype.

Below are some tips and info that will help with typing. At the bottom are links to guide you to the right tests for your needs.

Look beneath behavior

Unfortunately, many descriptions of the personality types place a lot of emphasis upon behavior. The problem is that Enneagram type is more about where that behavior is coming from, not the behavior itself. Two people can behave in a similar way for quite different reasons.

Behavior is what's happening on the surface. Enneagram type is about what's happening underneath surface.

Hold on to type loosely

You will mistype people. It's a given. So, when you think you know your type or someone else's type remember that you may be wrong.

What your doing when intitially typing yourself or someone else is trying on a type for fit. If it doesn't fit then try another type.

Bringing the types to life

Ultimately, you need to go beyond descriptions of the types by bringing them to life. You can do this by listening to and watching people of each type. 

There are a number of videos and podcasts available on the Internet where people of a given type describe their experience of type. There are also lists of famous types out there (lists of the types of famous people and fictional characters). Just know that people sometimes mistype themselves and often mistype others so hold these typings somewhat loosely.

Variations of type

While typing begins with a person's primary or basic Enneagram type, there are a number of concepts that define variations within a type. It's best to have a good level of certainty about basic type before exploring the variations (although sometimes the variations can make the basic type more obvious).

Variations of type are described commonly by Enneagram concepts such as wings, instincts, and tritype. These concepts are often used to describe the differences between people of the same basic type. These concepts can also be used in combination with one another (e.g., tritype with wings).

Not everyone uses all these concepts. If you find a concept describing variation of type useful then use it. If not, don't.

Paid tests vs. free tests

Enneagram tests are nowhere near 100% accurate.

While a paid test is likely to come from someone in the "Enneagram business" (i.e., someone who makes a living off the Enneagram types), it isn't necessarily any more accurate than the free tests available.

Often what a paid test does offer is a type profile based on the results of the test. Although the profile will likely be based on that website's interpretation and it may consist of material that you could find for yourself if you invested a little time into the effort.

Taking a test for someone else

Many people trying to type themselves start off with an Enneagram test, but typing someone else could also start that way. You would just be taking the test as if you were that person you're typing. Just remember to hold the results loosely because your own bias will likely play into your responses.

It can also be interesting for someone who knows you well to take an Enneagram test for you. Ideally you would be there to discuss their answers vs. your answers. It may or may not help with typing yourself, but it would definitely help you understand how they see you.

Taking the Right Test

A test may or may not type you correctly but it should help you narrow down your possibilities or validate your choices. While many tests will help you do this, they aren't designed to help you narrow down those possibilities to a single type. That's where the comparison tests on this website fill the gap.

Which Enneagram test to take depends on what you already know and what you're trying to find. All the tests on this website are free and can help you find your primary or basic type,  preferred wing, instinctual variant stacking, instinctual subtype, tritype, and more. 

You can go to the Enneagram tests page or be guided to the right test by selecting an answer to the question below.

What are you trying to find?