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Enneagram Type 3 Personality: Esteem and Affirmation

Enneagram type 3

Enneagram type 3 is given a variety of names by those who teach and write about the Enneagram types such as The Performer, The Achiever, and The Effective Person. While these names allude to some common characteristics that often appear in the type 3 personality, they only provide a hint of what's going on underneath the surface. What's going on can be found in the core focus.

Enneagram type 3 has a focus on being esteemed and valued by way of being recognized by others for what they accomplish. This produces a habit of attention that looks to goals and achievements and the emotional affirmation their attainment provide.

Initial Self-Belief: “I am not esteemed or valued as I am.”

Compensation: "I must become accomplished and prove myself to gain value and regard in the eyes of others."

Habit of Attention: Type 3 attention is on attaining goals and presenting an image of success. This starts as a way to increase self-value but can confuse who you are with what you do or the image you present. It requires you to look outside yourself for recognition or some measure to gauge how well you're doing.

The Enneagram types evolved from Oscar Ichazo's ego-types into Claudio Naranjo's enneatypes. The goal with the ego-types was to identify an individual's fixation in order to work on transcending it. The enneatypes fleshed out the ego-types in terms of modern psychology and personality traits.

Type 3 Ego: Ego-Go

Below are descriptions of Oscar Ichazo's ego type 3 fixation, trap, holy idea, passion, and virtue reinterpreted for today's personality types.

Type 3 Fixation and Trap

Fixation: Vanity comes from gaining a sense of value through accomplishments and subsequent recognition.

Trap: Efficiency comes from pursuing the most effective path forward to get to your goal.

The fixation points to the mental preoccupation of the ego and the trap seems like the way out but keeps the individual stuck in the fixation. 

Type 3 Holy Idea

Holy Idea: Holy hope is finding intrinsic value in just being rather than needing affirmation and validation through your accomplishments.

The holy idea is the actual way out of the ego fixation.

Type 3 Passion

Passion: Deceit involves taking on a persona that appeals to an intended audience. I have difficulty knowing who I am separate from the image I'm presenting.

The passion is the emotional energy that serves the fixation and trap.

Type 3 Virtue

Virtue: Truthfulness appears when you find a sense of self that is true to who you are instead of playing to the expectations of an intended audience.

The virtue is what appears when the passion subsides.

Type 3 Personality Traits: Enneatype III

Claudio Naranjo's enneatypes expanded upon Oscar Ichazo's fixations and passions by referring to modern psychology and other sources.

What follows is the trait structure for type 3 as outlined in Naranjo's book "Ennea-type Structures."

Enneatype III
Success through Appearances - Vanity, Inauthenticity, and the "Marketing Orientation"

  • Attention Need and Vanity
  • Achieving Orientation
  • Social Sophistication and Skill
  • Cultivation of Sexual Attractiveness
  • Deceit and Image Manipulation
  • Other-Directedness
  • Pragmatism
  • Active Vigilance
  • Superficiality
The relationships and movements between types can be explored by way of the triads, arrows, and lines as seen on the Enneagram symbol or diagram. These elements of the Enneagram are often described as the centers, the stances, stress/security points, and directions of integration/disintegration.

    Type 3 Center

    Heart/Heart-Based Center

    Type 3 is located in the 234 triad which is often described as the heart center. Type 3 often overrides emotions that get in the way of achieving goals but then looks for emotional affirmation or recognition from others to know how they are doing: the applause of the crowd, the evaluation of a boss, the recognition of a group, the attainment of awards, etc.

    Types 2, 3, and 4 may also be referred to as shame types. Type 3 is the most image-oriented of the types. It's generally an image of success they're after. There can be a feeling of failure unless successful in the eyes of others. Success can have to do with how well they perform but also how well they are regarded or held in high esteem by the people they want recognition from.

    The core focus approach labels the 234 triad as the Emotional Center and differentiates how types 2, 3, and 4 use that center.

    • Type 2: Emotional Attentiveness - connects to others through emotional empathy.
    • Type 3: Emotional Affirmation - finds validation through achievement and recognition.
    • Type 4: Emotional Authenticity - expresses what feels true and real for oneself.

    You can take a test comparing the three heart types here.

    Type 3 Stance or Hornevian Group

    Aggressive Stance

    Type 3 is in the aggressive triad along with type 7 and type 8. Type 3 is aggressive against feelings that get in the way of attaining the goal or success itself. These can be their own feelings of doubt and negativity but also the feelings of others who sidetrack the focus away from the goal and aren't positive thinkers with a can-do attitude.

    Type 3 Stress and Growth

    Enneagram type 3 arrows

    Movement against the arrow from type 3 to type 6

    Movement against the arrow is sometimes described as movement toward a type's security point or direction of integration or growth. Type 3 is said to take on characteristics of type 6 when feeling relaxed or secure or moving toward health and growth.

    Movement with the arrow from type 3 to type 9

    Movement with the arrow is sometimes described as a movement toward a type's stress point or direction of disintegration or stress. When feeling stressed and pressured or not in control, type 3 is said to take on characteristics of type 9.

    Connecting points from type 3 to type 6 and type 9

    Some teachers ignore the arrows and simply describe the lines as connecting points. In this case, someone identified as type 3 is said to sometimes take on characteristics of type 6 and type 9. Or to put it another way, type 3 may move to type 6 and type 9 at times when the type 3 concerns are not dominant.

    Although you have a basic or primary Enneagram type there are many subtle variations within type. These variations are defined by such concepts as wings, instincts, tritype, and levels. They're often used to explain why people of the same Enneagram type can look different.

    Type 3 Wings - 3w2 and 3w4

    Type 3 Wings


    The wings are represented by the numbers on either side of a given type as seen on the Enneagram symbol or diagram. These types are said to have an additional influence upon the type being looked at. The wing types for type 3 are type 2 and type 4.

    Although type 3 is influenced by both wings, an individual will generally be influenced more by one of the wings than the other. The wing with more influence is said to be the preferred wing.

    Type 3 wing 2 (3w2) - preferred 2 wing
    Common Name: The Charmer

    • more emotional and helpful
    • more desirous of popularity and admiration
    • more able to shift image as needed

    Type 3 wing 4 (3w4) - preferred 4 wing
    Common Name: The Professional

    • more serious and task-oriented
    • more about producing and being competent
    • more driven to attain or embody perfection

    Click here if you'd like help finding your preferred wing.

    Type 3 Subtypes

    Type 3 Instinctual Subtypes

    The instincts of the Enneagram types are self-preservation (sp), sexual (sx), and social (so). They are traditionally used to define three instinctual subtypes or variations of a basic type (e.g., SP 3, SX 3, and SO 3). One of these three subtypes is called the counter-type because it can look different from the basic type. Below are brief descriptions of the three type 3 instinctual subtypes.

    SP 3 - Security, Company Man/Woman (counter-type): security through hard work, material success, and accomplishments; seeks recognition from others through effort not overt self-promotion; can overidentify with work role and career.

    SX 3 - Masculine/Feminine, Charisma: presents attractive and pleasing image to others; promotes and supports important others more so than promoting oneself; success of significant others becomes one’s own success.

    SO 3 - Prestige, Achievement: adopts the persona and image that garners respect, approval, admiration, etc.; can confuse persona and image with who they truly are; enjoys the spotlight and achieving success, reputation, status, influence as they climb the social ladder.

    While an individual may be identified with type 3 in general, that same individual may be more specifically identified with one of the three instinctual subtypes as well. 

    A more recent approach to using the instincts is instinctual variant stacking which can be used independent of Enneagram type.

    If you'd like to find your instinctual subtype or instinctual variant stacking then click here.

    Type 3 Tritypes

    Enneagram type 3 tritypes

    With tritype you are not simply one type but three, one type from each center. There is also an order of preference for the three types (which type is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd).

    The type 3 tritypes have type 3 as their first type and heart type. The second and third types come from the gut (8, 9, or 1) and head (5, 6, or 7) centers.

    Tritype® Archetype goes a step further by also looking at tritype in terms of the three types alone (independent of order of preference). Below are the Tritype® Archetype names if Enneagram type 3 is your primary type.

    The Technical Expert - 315 or 351
    The Taskmaster - 316 or 361
    The Systems Builder - 317 or 371
    The Solution Master - 358 or 385
    The Thinker - 359 or 395
    The Justice Fighter - 368 or 386
    The Mediator - 369 or 396
    The Mover Shaker - 378 or 387
    The Ambassador - 379 or 397

    For a description of any Tritype® Archetype above click the name. If you're not taken to the correct part of the web page when it appears then scroll down to the middle of the web page and look for the Tritype® Archetype you're interested in.

    If you'd like to find your tritype, tritype with wings, dominant type in a given center, or order of preference then click here.

    Type 3 - Enneagram Levels of Development

    Enneagram Levels

    The Levels of Development create a vertical dimension within each Enneagram type.

    There are nine levels ranging from healthy (levels 1-3) to average (levels 4-6) to unhealthy (levels 7-9). A person will operate within a range of levels (e.g., levels 2-4, levels 6-8, etc.). This range will vary throughout a lifetime. Two people of the same type will look different when they're operating from different levels.

    Below are two words associated with each level for type 3 as described in the book "The Wisdom of the Enneagram" by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.

    Healthy Levels

    Level 1 - Inner-Directed, Authentic

    Level 2 - Adaptable, Admirable

    Level 3 - Goal-Oriented, Self-Improving

    Average Levels

    Level 4 - Success-Oriented, Performing

    Level 5 - Image-Conscious, Expedient

    Level 6 - Self-Promoting, Grandiose

    Unhealthy Levels

    Level 7 - Unprincipled, Deceptive

    Level 8 - Duplicitous, Opportunistic

    Level 9 - Monomaniacal, Relentless

    Click here for descriptions of all nine type 3 levels. If you're not taken to the correct part of the web page when it appears then scroll down to the middle of the web page and look for the section on Levels of Development.

    Even though Enneagram tests are not 100% accurate they can provide a starting point for finding your Enneagram type and variations of type by narrowing down and validating your choices. The tests below can be useful if you think you might be a type 3 or you know you are a type 3 and want to explore the type 3 variations.

    Enneagram Mistypes - Type 3 Comparison Tests

    Some people correctly identify their Enneagram type on the first try. For most other people typing yourself correctly can take some time.

    If you feel that you may have wrongly typed yourself as type 3 and have one or more alternative types in mind then click on a link below to take a quick Enneagram test comparing type 3 to another type.

    To find some alternatives to type 3 you can take the type preference test below. Afterward you can compare these alternatives using the links above or the type comparison test.

    Enneagram Variations - Tests to help find Type 3 Wing, Subtype, and Tritype

    Find your type 3 wing preference by comparing the two wings of type 3.

    Find your type 3 subtype by comparing the three instictual subtypes of type 3.

    Find your missing tritype head or gut type by comparing the three types in a center.

    Find your tritype order by comparing your 2nd and 3rd tritype types.

    Quick Guide to the Enneagram

    This page is part of the Quick Guide to the Enneagram available on this website. For more information about any particular Enneagram type or the many concepts and history of the Enneagram types visit the Quick Guide main page.

    The Nine Enneagram Types x
    The Nine Enneagram Types