If you haven’t taken a personality test, you’re probably in the minority. Personality tests are questionnaires used by workplaces, religious groups, schools, branches of the armed forces, and therapists to reveal our aptitudes and attitudes. They use self-reflection as a way to uncover our motivations as well as our opportunities for growth. They help us think about how we relate to other people and understand our unique needs in everyday situations. While they’re not a science by any means, they can be a powerful tool for self-improvement.
The Enneagram is one way of understanding and categorizing personalities. This system features nine personality types. It began with a diagram of how our personalities change with stress (disintegration) and growth (integration). From that, the RHETI (Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator) test was created to help us understand our basic personalities and how we change as we face life’s struggles.
Versions of the RHETI can be taken for free online, though the “official” test can be taken at enneagraminstitute.com.
This person is typically rational and sometimes perfectionistic. In all things, they want to have integrity and balance. They strive to improve themselves and things around them. They want to live above criticism. They tend to have a strong sense of purpose that leads them and strive after an ideal of “higher values,” even at great cost. At their best, they are wise, inspiring, and champions of truth. At their worst, they can be self-righteous, intolerant, and cruel.
Famous 1s: Plato, Joan of Arc, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Martha Stewart, Spock
Caring for others is an essential part of this person’s personality. They are sincere, friendly, and people-pleasing. They want to be loved and express their feelings for others. They may be the “mom” of their friend group. If they’re unable to demonstrate their helpfulness or don’t get appreciation in return, they may struggle with a feeling of worthlessness. At their best, they’re deeply humble and generous. At their worst, they are coercive or needy.
Famous 2s: Dolly Parton, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Ann Landers, John Denver, Elizabeth Taylor
Self-assured, success-oriented, image-conscious. These people are like the CEOs of the Enneagram. While they may be charming and professional, they can also be overly concerned with what others think of them. This personality is driven to be successful or to serve as a role model. Their fear of failure can make them somewhat of a performer. At their best, they’re authentic and self-motivated. At their worst, 1s tear others down or do whatever it takes to avoid humiliation.
Famous 3s: Augustus Caesar, Tiger Woods, Don Draper, Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins
Sensitive, dramatic, and expressive 4s are generally creative people. They are often very honest with themselves and open about their feelings. However, they may feel like “something” is missing or that they’ve always been “different” from others. They might see themselves as uniquely talented and just as uniquely disadvantaged. At their best, they’re inspired and transformative, while at their worst, they’re self-pitying or tormented.
Famous 4s: Frederic Chopin, Miles Davis, Stevie Nicks, Prince, Kate Winslet, Virginia Woolf
This person is alert, insightful, and curious. They love to develop complex ideas and can become preoccupied with their thoughts. They can be visionary pioneers but also live somewhat isolated from others around them. They may develop many skills in their lifetime. At their best, they may make incredible discoveries and find new ways of looking at the world. At their worst, they may reject social attachments or be cynical and argumentative.
Famous 5s: Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Agatha Christie, Mark Zuckerberg, Julian Assange
Security is vital to this personality type. They are committed in their relationships with others and will expect others around them to be similarly trustworthy. They can often foresee problems and help teams come together to solve them. But because they're so focused on connection, they can also be somewhat suspicious of others or anxious. 6 At their best, they’re a true leader, independent while working equally with others. However, at their worst, 6s may feel defenseless or persecuted.
Famous 6s: Edgar Hoover, Marilyn Monroe, Tom Hanks, Mark Twain, Richard Nixon
Generally extroverted, spontaneous, and versatile, this may be the “fun” friend that helps you get out of your shell. They can become scattered or over-extended if they let their urge to seek new experiences run rampant. If they can rein in their impulses, this personality can find joy just about anywhere. However, they have to keep an eye on their near-constant FOMO. At their best, 7s are joyous and grateful. At their worst? They can be erratic or dangerously impulsive.
Famous 7s: Thomas Jefferson, Amelia Earhart, Elton John, George Clooney, Miley Cyrus
Assertive 8s can be a misunderstood bunch. Their protective, domineering ways can seem stifling to others, but they’re generally motivated by proving their self-reliance. They can harness this energy to be inspiring heroes. They enjoy taking on challenges and can often lead others to great things. At their best, 8s are courageous and
self-confident. At their worst, 8s let their need to control situations get away from them or may even become destructive.
Famous 8s: Winston Churchill, John Wayne, Russell Crowe, Dr. Phil, Serena Williams
“Go with the flow” is a lifestyle for this type. Trusting, agreeable, and receptive, this easy-going personality wants everything to go smoothly. 9s want to create harmony and may let their desires fall by the wayside to achieve peace. They often have a remarkable ability to bring people together but can sometimes lose themselves in a group. At their best, they are fully connected to themselves and others. At their worst, 9s minimize problems or become resigned.
Famous 9s: Princess Grace, Mister Rogers, Abraham Lincoln, General Colin Powell, John Goodman