The 9 Enneagram Types and Study Tips

A Brief Overview of the 9 Enneagram Types and Quick Tips for Development

Since the Enneagram is about the internal structure of our inner world, self-discovery is key. It’s important to understand when learning a system like this one: we are human beings who happen to have adopted a pattern of being, or “type,” which represents an adaptive strategy. It’s designed to meet our three basic, mammalian needs for security, love, and a sense of self, as in self-worth. It’s designed to help us cope with the demands we face being in the world. Type, also referred to as the ego,  is not necessarily a bad thing. It just gets far more supple, flexible, and at “our service” when we understand it better and know when and how it’s operating.

In order to strategize a satisfying life, each type sets up a particular, non-random belief structure as follows:


The Perfectionist, believes you must be good and right, and not be utterly wrong in a world that demands good behavior and punishes bad behavior. Consequently, Perfectionists show up as conscientious, responsible, improvement-oriented, and self-controlled, but can also be critical, resentful, and self-judging.

Keys to development: 1s need to notice and then reduce the dominance of the critical mind, appreciate errors simply as difference, and accept and integrate desire and instinct along side duty as the path to wholeness.


The Giver, believes you must give fully to others and not be utterly useless in a give-to-get world. Consequently, Givers are caring, helpful, supportive, and relationship-oriented, but also can be prideful, overly intrusive, and demanding.

Keys to development: 2s need to , integrate, and own the true individual self and overcome the addiction to meeting the needs of important others as a way to be loved and taken care of.


The Performer, believes you must accomplish and succeed and not be utterly unable to do or succeed in a world that rewards doing rather than being. Consequently, Performers are industrious, fast-paced, goal-focused, and efficiency-oriented, but can also be inattentive to feelings, impatient, and image-driven.

Keys to development: 3s need to slow down, welcome and appreciate feelings, notice that love is “being” as well as “doing and getting.”


The Romantic, believes you must be special and complete and not be utterly deficient in a world that otherwise wouldn’t love you. Consequently, Romantics are idealistic, deeply feeling, empathetic, authentic to self, but also can be dramatic, moody, and sometimes self-absorbed.

Keys to development: 4s need to overcome the longing for what they perceive is “still” missing and judged all-important, appreciate what is positive in life now as is, and accept self as lovable, separate from her/his identification with needing to be special.


The Observer, believes you must be self-sufficient and knowledgeable and not be utterly depleted in a world that demands too much and gives too little. Consequently, Observers are independence-seeking, non-demanding, analytic/thoughtful, and unobtrusive, but also can be withholding, detached, and overly private.

Keys to development: 5s need to appreciate the difference between the natural flow of life energy, realize that withdrawal invites intrusion, associate into experience and feelings, and move forward into life more fully and energetically.


The Loyal Skeptic, believes you must gain certainty and security and not be utterly helpless and dependent in a hazardous world you just can’t trust. Consequently, Sixes are themselves trustworthy, loyal friends, and inquisitive, but also can be overly doubtful, accusatory, and either overly confrontative or avoidant of fearful situations.

Keys to development: 6s need to notice the preoccupation with hazard and the accompanying over-imagination of danger and projection, pay attention to what is already just fine, become one’s own authority, and develop greater trust in self and others.


The Epicure, believes you must keep life open and flowing and not be utterly limited in a world that causes pain and restrictions. Consequently, Epicures are optimistic, upbeat, possibility- and pleasure-seeking, and adventurous, but also can be pain-avoidant, uncommitted, and self-serving.

Keys to development: 7s need to recognize the excesses of future planning and lust for experiences, make lasting commitments, and accept all of life: pain, fear, boredom, limits as well as pleasure, joy, excitement, and options.


The Protector, believes you must be strong and invulnerable and not be utterly powerless in a tough world where the powerful will take advantage of you. Consequently, Protectors are justice-seeking, direct, strong, and action-oriented, but also overly impactful, excessive, and sometimes impulsive.

Keys to development: 8s need to notice intensity and to reduce impulsiveness, appreciate differences and vulnerability, and realize and moderate impact on others.


The Mediator, believes you must seek importance externally and not be utterly insignificant in a world in that requires you to blend in and not make a big deal of yourself. Consequently, Mediators go along and get along and are self-forgetting, harmony-seeking, comfortable, and steady, but also conflict-avoidant and sometimes stubborn.

Keys to development: 9s need to pay attention to own self and needs, determine his/her own priorities and take action on them, and welcome discomfort, change, and an individuated self.


Additional Information

New to the Enneagram? Learn more about the Enneagram’s system and purpose.

Wish to know what constitutes the core of each personality type? Learn more about the Enneagram’s Basic Propositions.

Curious about how the Enneagram can help you develop as a person?  Learn more about the Enneagram’s Universal Growth Process, and use the General Enneagram Growth Practice as well as a Type-Specific Enneagram Growth Practice to supplement your exercise.


Need help finding your Enneagram type?

Take the scientifically validated Enneagram test online or through the paper-back book version found in Dr. David Daniels’ The Essential Enneagram.

To find out more about these and other typing methods, click here.