Enneagram Subtypes (A Comprehensive Guide)

This article will explore the in-depth system of enneagram subtypes. Enneagram subtypes emerge from enneagram tradition to enhance the understanding of personality type so that an individual has a better understanding of oneself helping him in leading a better life.

These enneagram subtypes are based on three basic instincts of human beings.

In this article we will discuss enneagram subtypes. 


Enneagram is a system of typology which describes the personality of the individual as a number of interconnected personality type.

This has become popular in the spiritual and business domain but it is not widely accepted in evidence-based psychology as it lacks empirical research. 

Enneagram personality theory:

Enneagram personality is defined with the help of the enneagram structure. It consists of a circle with nine distinct personalities.

The outer circle has an equilateral triangle inside which connects three of the nine-point of the circle.

The rest of the points in the circle are connected through irregular hexagons. 

In the simplest form, enneagram represents 9 distinct personality types and it grows complex when these 9 personalities give rise to 27 different personality subtypes.

Enneagram personalities are clustered in 3 X 3 arrangement giving rise to three centers. These three centers are instinctive, feeling, and thinking.

The three personalities in each center have common characteristics of their center.

For example characteristics of personality type four have their relationship with feelings. 

The arrangement of personality to its center is not arbitrary rather it is the emotional response to the loss of contact with the core self.

This emotional response is largely unconscious and powerful. It should be noted that the emotions of three centers are common among all personalities type but the personalities of a center are affected by that emotion. 

According to researchers in enneagram institute, individuals can find part of themselves in all personality types but one of the types constitutes the dominant aspect of their personality.

According to them, individuals are born with that dominant personality but it can further be shaped by environment and experiences.

These two factors tend to interact with and influence each other.

The personality type a person is born which defines how a person responds to the experiences and these experiences in return shape how a personality is shaped. 

Enneagram suggests that people do not usually go from one personality type to another.

But it is important to understand that not all aspects of personality are expressed at a particular time.

People tend to fluctuate among healthy and unhealthy traits of their personality depending on their circumstances.

A person can relate to each of the personality types but according to enneagram institute, it is the dominant personality which is important. 

It should be noted here that no one personality type is considered better than others by researchers at enneagram institute.

The characteristics of one personality type can be seen as a hindrance or helpful for the individual depending on the individual and the culture they belong to.

For example, the trait of being self-reliant might help individuals living in individualistic society but might become trouble for one in a collectivist society. 

The basic personality types:

The basic personality types described through enneagram are as follow:

  1. Reformer
  2. Helper
  3. Achiever
  4. Individualistic
  5. Investigator
  6. Loyalist
  7. Enthusiast
  8. Challenger 
  9. Peacemaker

The Wings:

Enneagram researcher suggests that no one person has only one pure personality rather the dominant personality type is influenced by either one or both of its adjacent personality types.

These adjacent personality types are known as wings.

 These wings or adjacent personality types add up complementary or sometimes contradictory elements to individuals’ personality type.

It is important to take into account these wings in addition to the dominant personality type as they are often known as the second side of one’s personality.

For example, individuals with personality type eight will be influenced either by nice or seven which are adjacent to it.

There is a contradiction in enneagram tradition that either there are one or two wings influencing the dominant personality type of individual.  

Enneagram subtypes:

In addition to characteristics of basic personality type and its wing enneagram also take into account the instinctual needs of a human.

They integrate human instincts with the basic personality type giving rise to 27 enneagram subtypes. Enneagram subtypes merge the instinctual needs of a human being with emotional needs.

It should be noted that these emotional needs are determined by the enneagram basic personality type.

An analogy of instinct and enneagram personality can be a plate of food where the plate of food is an enneagram personality type, instinct will determine which food will be picked first or is considered good by an individual. 

These instincts are related to the fundamental instinctual intelligence of individual which ensured the survival of species.

The function of these instincts in modern society has been studied through research in neuroscience. 

According to the Enneagram Institute, there are three centers of intelligence. These centers are as follow:

  1. The mental center: Mental center has all the thoughts, ideas, and languages 
  2. The Emotion center: Emotion center has a person’s feelings of emotions and his empathy towards others.
  3. The Body Center: The body center is driven by three instincts. These three instincts are self-preservation, social, and sexual. 

Enneagram subtypes are based on the body center.

All individuals have three instincts of body center but for each individual one of the three instincts becomes the center and guides his whole life.

This dominant instinct interacts with the enneagram personality type and defines the individual as a whole.

Thus each enneagram personality has three variants depending on the dominant type of instinct. 

Three Instincts:

These three instincts are confined in an individual’s body center of intelligence. According to Enneagram traditions, these instincts are related to the body and make an individual go through life.

There is another potential of these instincts as well such as the ability to enjoy the physical sensation, maintaining physical health and vitality, and considering oneself as a part of the bigger world web.

The three instincts of the body center of intelligence are as follow:

Self Preservation:

This is the instinct which drives individuals to preserve their self and effective functioning of a body.

Thus the focus of this instinct is on physical safety, material security, well being, and comfort.

In stressful circumstances, when excessive demands are being made by the environment and other individuals, anxiety can pair up with this instinct making an individual hoard different resources and energies.

One to One:

We all have the drive to interact with our environment, form ties, and pass ourselves to next-generation which can both be metaphoric, in terms of passing ideas and legacies or literal in terms of passing DNA.

This drives forces an individual to take every opportunity to form and retain a deep connection. 


Man is a social animal. Thus every man has an instinct to form social bonds that provide them security and a sense of connection.

The main focus of this instinct is interpersonal relationships and an individual’s relationship with his community which inculcates in his social awareness.

It also leads an individual to spend energy on the greater good.
Discovering Enneagram subtypes 

For some individuals, it can be quite clear to which enneagram subtypes they belong to, for others it can be a matter of self-exploration.

To discover the enneagram subtypes one should look at the subtypes associated with each of the three instincts as these three instincts are further associated with 9 subtypes.

A person should look at these lists and identify which list of subtypes describes him the most.

This will be his instinctual type. The instinct and its subtypes are as follow:

Self-preservation Enneagram subtypes:

  • One – Pioneer – They overcome anxiety by working hard.
  •  Two – Nurturer – They tend to feel privileged and earn their approval by taking care of others. 
  • Three – Company Man/Woman – They are able to achieve success and financial stability.
  • Four – Creative Individualist – They tend to be reckless in their pursuit of being authentic. 
  • Five – Castle Defender – They have their home as a refuge.
  • Six – Family Loyalists – They are likely to seek safety from affection and warmth by their interpersonal relationships. 
  • Seven – Gourmand – They enjoy food, family, and fun.
  • Eight – Survivalist – They are eager to protect their family and their space. 
  • Nine – Collector – They like to hoard food and tend to have many possessions. 

One to One Enneagram subtypes:

  • One – Evangelist – They are over-zealous or sometimes jealous.
  • Two – Lover – They tend to gain attention through seduction. 
  • Three – Movie Star – They are the best representative of their gender type. 
  • Four – Drama Queen or King – They use power and style to beat the competition.
  • Five – Secret Agent – They are most likely to keep things confidential.
  • Six – Warrior – They create beauty or maintain strength to overcome fear.
  • Seven – Salesman/woman – They are fascinated with ideas, products, and people. 
  • Eight – Dictator – They either tend to possess or surrender.
  • Nine – Seeker – They have the urge to merge.

Social Enneagram Subtype:

  • One – Social Registrar – They are usually right but do not adapt.
  • Two – Ambassador – They use their ambition to seek recognition.
  • Three – Politicians – They are highly likely to have success and prestigious social status.
  • Four – Critical Commentator – They put in a lot of effort to overcome social shame. 
  • Five – Professor – They are the epitome of social symbols and systems. 
  • Six – Social Guardian – They always perform their duties assigned to them. 
  • Seven – Utopian Visionary – They can make any sacrifice for a cause. 
  • Eight – Group Leader – They are deeply committed to their friends and social causes. 
  • Nine – Community Benefactor – Their strength is their participation. 


Enneagram is a well-established tradition with its roots back to Greek mythology. Enneagram Institute has defined 9 basic personality types.

Every individual can relate to one of the types. The basic personality type is often influenced by its adjacent personality type known as its wing.

In addition, each personality type has its instinctual variant which describes which instinct of an individual dominates its personality type.

Personality type can be dominated either by self-preservation, social or one to one instinct. 

FAQ about enneagram subtypes

Which enneagram subtype is most common?

There is not much information available on which enneagram subtype is most common.

As most of the information available to the enneagram institute comes from anecdotes of enneagram practitioners.

What is the rarest enneagram type?

The rarest enneagram type is 4.

Personality type 4 is known as individualistic.

By the extent of the influence of adjacent wing personality types, 4 can be 4w3 or 4w5

What is an instinctual variant?

An instinctual variant is an enneagram subtype.

All individuals have three basic instincts which are self-preservation, social, and one to one.

Each enneagram personality is associated with either of the three instincts forming its instinctual variant.