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Enneagram Type 6 Personality: Assurance and Questioning

Enneagram type 6

Enneagram type 6 is given a variety of names by those who teach and write about the Enneagram types such as The Loyal Skeptic, The Loyalist, and The Loyal Person. While these names allude to some common characteristics that often appear in the type 6 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 6 has a focus on finding assurance in decision making and taking action by asking questions and reconciling doubts. This produces a habit of attention that scans the environment and people for possible dangers or threats while also looking for something that can be trusted.

Initial Self-Belief: “I am uncertain as I am.”

Compensation: "I must search for someone or something that I can depend on that gives me the assurance to move forward."

Habit of Attention: Type 6 attention scans for what could go wrong. This starts with doubts as to one's own capabilities but may look for causes for those doubts externally as well. A sense of skepticism and mistrust of others and the world at large may then develop.

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 6 Ego: Ego-Cow

Below are descriptions of Oscar Ichazo's ego type 6 fixation, trap, holy idea, passion, and virtue reinterpreted for today's personality types.

Type 6 Fixation and Trap

Fixation: Cowardice comes from waiting for something or someone to alleviate doubt before taking action.

Trap: Security requires constant scanning for potential dangers and problems in order to be prepared.

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 6 Holy Idea

Holy Idea: Holy faith is trusting in yourself and others that you can navigate life in spite of the doubts and questions you may have.

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

Type 6 Passion

Passion: Fear arises from a sense of uncertainty and doubt within. I scan others and the world around me to locate dangers and find something to reassure me.

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

Type 6 Virtue

Virtue: Courage appears when you step into action as circumstances dictate in spite of any lingering doubts or fears that you may have about doing so.

The virtue is what appears when the passion subsides.

Type 6 Personality Traits: Enneatype VI

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 6 as outlined in Naranjo's book "Ennea-type Structures."

Enneatype VI
The Persecuted Persecutor - Fear and Suspiciousness

  • Fear, Cowardice and Anxiety
  • Over-Alert Hyperintentionality
  • Theoretical Orientation
  • Ingratiating Friendliness
  • Rigidity
  • Pugnacity
  • Orientation to Authority and Ideals
  • Accusation of Self and Others
  • Doubt and Ambivalence
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 6 Center

    Head/Head-Based Center

    Type 6 is located in the 567 triad which is often described as the head center. Type 6 questioning or probing helps determine whether something or someone can be trusted and relied on. The contrarian or devil's advocate position can be taken at times when testing the validity of a given point of view, theory, authority, etc.

    Types 5, 6, and 7 may also be referred to as fear-based types. Type 6 fear arises from a prevailing feeling of doubt and mistrust that seeks assurance by looking for something or someone that can be trusted. Worst-case scenarios can be imagined when fears take over, demanding a cautiousness of action or excessive concern regarding the imagined scenarios.

    The core focus approach labels the 567 triad as the Mental Center and differentiates how each type uses that center.

    • Type 5: Mental Objectivity - observes the world by pulling back from it and watching.
    • Type 6: Mental Questioning - probes to alleviate doubts and find what can be trusted.
    • Type 7: Mental Anticipation - avoids limitations while exploring interesting possibilities.

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

    Type 6 Stance or Hornevian Group

    Compliant Stance

    Type 6 is in the compliant triad along with type 1 and type 2. Type 6 is compliant toward something or someone that can be relied upon and trusted. This can often be an individual or structure that provides a sense of assurance and guidance. Loyalty can develop over time. Mistrust or rebelliousness can ensue if loyalty turns into skepticism.

    Type 6 Stress and Growth

    Enneagram type 6 arrows

    Movement against the arrow from type 6 to type 9

    Movement against the arrow is sometimes described as movement toward a type's security point or direction of integration or growth. Type 6 is said to take on characteristics of type 9 when feeling relaxed or secure or moving toward health and growth.

    Movement with the arrow from type 6 to type 3

    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 6 is said to take on characteristics of type 3.

    Connecting points from type 6 to type 9 and type 3

    Some teachers ignore the arrows and simply describe the lines as connecting points. In this case, someone identified as type 6 is said to sometimes take on characteristics of type 9 and type 3. Or to put it another way, type 6 may move to type 9 and type 3 at times when the type 6 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 6 Wings - 6w5 and 6w7

    Type 6 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 6 are type 5 and type 7.

    Although type 6 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 6 wing 5 (6w5) - preferred 5 wing
    Common Name: The Defender

    • more contrary and serious
    • more dutiful and responsible
    • more anti-authoritarian and reactionary

    Type 6 wing 7 (6w7) - preferred 7 wing
    Common Name: The Buddy

    • more self-deprecating and disarming
    • more dependent upon others
    • more eager to be liked and have fun

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

    Type 6 Subtypes

    Type 6 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 6, SX 6, and SO 6). 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 6 instinctual subtypes.

    SP 6 - Warmth, Affection/Rejection: is warm and friendly as a way to show one is not a threat; cultivates protective and trusting alliances with others; resolves doubt through constant assurance and cautious around potential dangers and risks.

    SX 6 - Strength/Beauty (counter-type): uses strength or beauty to be empowered within the world; stands against fear but more “bark” than “bite”; runs toward fear or danger with attitude of the best defense is a good offense.

    SO 6 - Duty, Fellowship: knows and follows the rules to relieve anxiety; relies on ideologies or other systems of reference; can be precise, intolerant, and adhere to guidelines of authority to avoid ambiguity.

    While an individual may be identified with type 6 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 6 Tritypes

    Enneagram type 6 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 6 tritypes have type 6 as their first type and head type. The second and third types come from the gut (8, 9, or 1) and heart (2, 3, or 4) 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 6 is your primary type.

    The Supporter - 612 or 621
    The Taskmaster - 613 or 631
    The Philosopher - 614 or 641
    The Rescuer - 628 or 682
    The Good Samaritan - 629 or 692
    The Justice Fighter - 638 or 683
    The Mediator - 639 or 693
    The Truth Teller - 648 or 684
    The Seeker - 649 or 694

    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 6 - 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 6 as described in the book "The Wisdom of the Enneagram" by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.

    Healthy Levels

    Level 1 - Self-Reliant, Courageous

    Level 2 - Engaging, Reliable

    Level 3 - Committed, Cooperative

    Average Levels

    Level 4 - Dutiful, Loyal

    Level 5 - Ambivalent, Defensive

    Level 6 - Authoritarian, Blaming

    Unhealthy Levels

    Level 7 - Panicky, Unreliable

    Level 8 - Paranoid, Lashing Out

    Level 9 - Self-Abasing, Self-Destructive

    Click here for descriptions of all nine type 6 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 6 or you know you are a type 6 and want to explore the type 6 variations.

    Enneagram Mistypes - Type 6 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 6 and have one or more alternative types in mind then click on a link below to take a quick Enneagram test comparing type 6 to another type.

    To find some alternatives to type 6 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 6 Wing, Subtype, and Tritype

    Find your type 6 wing preference by comparing the two wings of type 6.

    Find your type 6 subtype by comparing the three instictual subtypes of type 6.

    Find your missing tritype heart 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