Instinctual Subtypes (A Comprehensive Guide)

The evolution of human beings has always been based on three basic survival instincts which are also known as basic instincts:

  • Social – creating social gatherings and structures
  • One-to-one – a coupling of primary relationships
  • Self-preservation – responding back to needs and threats

In this article, we will discuss Instinctual Subtypes. 

In terms of Enneagram, the word personality or subtype is usually used to describe the basic instincts expressions in our daily life.

This integration of basic instincts in our daily life is usually influenced by the driving passion or emotional energy of the Enneagram specific type.

The variations among people can be explained using the subtypes of the Enneagram as each Enneagram has further three instinctual subtypes which total the variations to 27 instinctual subtypes with each subtype having their own distinct flavor. 

Knowing the instinctual patterns of a person can help them lead a more balanced and healthier life.

Our Enneagram subtype pattern is one of the primary ways that we do things about in our daily lives without us realizing it.

Usually, we don’t notice the impact of our subtypes in our lives as much as other people do especially when they have a different instinctual subtype than ours.

The instinctual subtype is like a shadow element that is present outside of our awareness and is part of our daily life.

Without any conscious communication and understanding, these small differences in instinctual subtypes can also result in the rotting of a relationship.

So, by learning more about your instinctual subtypes and about the ones you love or who are close to you, you can avoid any conflict and misunderstandings with them especially if their preoccupation is different from yours.

Some people are quick to observe their primary subtype, whereas it might take time for others to learn about their instinctual subtypes over time with study.

We can always get to the conclusion earlier by asking feedback from people we know as we are not accustomed to seeing ourselves objectively.

Type 1: The Perfectionist

Self-preservation: Anxiety – The Pioneer

People with type One are either self-controlled or very anxious, this instinctual subtype of type one generally channels the concerns about security and survival into material things and achievements as a way to do the right thing and be a good person.

It looks important to impose order onto the natural world and subdue nature. Home, food preparation, family, etc take importance over other needs.

However, sacrificing oneself too much can result in resentment and physical tension.

Social: Inadaptability – The Social Reformer

Comfortable with a clear set of rules and a secure social role, this instinctual subtype is generally gregarious and friendly on their own turf.

But they usually emphasize doing things the right way, which can result in making it hard for them to adapt to changes and can also result in generating criticism and resentment towards others who might be acting incorrectly.

One-to-One: Jealousy/Zealousness – The Evangelist

With their clear standards and rules for correct behavior, these instinctual subtypes try to keep a highly charged instinctual center, which might lead to overzealousness, under strict self-control.

It is vital to avoid self-recrimination by keeping their partner’s attention on themselves.

They generally have jealousy towards others and their partners, especially the ones who can express themselves more openly.

Type 2: The Giver

Self-preservation: Privilege – The Nurturer

People with this type of instinctual subtype usually excel is creating personable and warm relationships with several people irrespective of their subtypes.

These people generally spend more time and attention to nurturing and supporting other people around them.

This can sometimes result in an insistence on going last or a prideful attitude that might support another kind of specialness which can also be considered as false modesty.

Social: Ambition – The Ambassador

This type of instinctual subtypes usually are the ones who gain self-esteem through visible accomplishments and social approval.

These people attune to other’s needs and empathize with them to create an indispensable and important role within the company or organization.

They are more focused on aligning with the correct group of people rather than taking the center stage.

One-to-One: Aggression/Seduction – The Lover

These types of instinctual subtypes are usually the ones that try to win the approval of selected people in a one-on-one relationship and are always open to making new connections.

Sometimes their use of feeling tones and body language can be considered as seductive, not in a sexual sense although they can also be aggressive and demanding in some cases for recognition and attention.

Type 3: The Performer

Self-preservation: Security – The Company Man/Woman

These instinctual subtypes are usually the ones that perform well, maintain the right image, and are hard workers.

With enough energy and drive these instinctual subtypes can accomplish their goals like a nice home, financial security, etc.

Social: Prestige – The Politician

These instinctual subtypes drive for success is focused on knowing the right people, achieving power in institutions, social approval whether they are in private, government, or business communities. 

One-to-One: Femininity/Masculinity – The Movie Star

These instinctual subtypes have a charismatic personality and personal power to be attractive.

They have a powerful image and are more suitable in the performer role.

Type 4: The Romantic

Self-preservation: Dauntlessness – The Creative Individualist

This type of instinctual subtype is more willing to jump into adventures and take risks.

They are ready to pack up and move along and have an unorthodox, artistic, and creative style.

Social: Shame/Honor – The Critical Commentator

The people with this type of instinctual subtype usually have directed envy towards other people’s status and can be easily provoked by social status.

They always find a need to resolve tensions between groups and are more acceptable towards a social role.

One-to-One: Competitiveness – The Dramatic Person

These subtypes are more open to competitions with other people that helps them to overcome their inner deficiency and create motivation for their personal agenda. 

Type 5: The Observer

Self-preservation: Home – The Castle Defender

This type of instinctual subtypes feels safer in the vicinity of their home and retreat to it.

They are always concerned about enough supplies and can sometimes be known as hoarders.

Or they can be quite opposite with traveling from one place to another constantly.

Social: Totem/Symbols – The Professor

These instinctual subtypes have a great hunger for knowledge and have a mastery of language and sacred symbols.

Yet sometimes they can become trapped in the role of an observer or learned teacher.

One-to-One: Confidentiality – The Secret Agent

This subtype will always be open in a one-to-one relationship and will share their private, inner world with the other person.

They can have some tension between deciding on the need to stay away and the need to make contact because of their secretive quality.

Type 6: The Loyal Skeptic

Self-preservation: Warmth – The Family Loyalist

These types of instinctual subtypes can overcome fear by making agreements and connections with others through personal warmth.

Experiencing the threat to their security or lack of warmth can create a fear of risk-taking and might confine them to well-established boundaries.

Social: Duty – The Social Guardian

They are usually clear about their role in the community, society or group.

They have the need to know the rules and have clear agreements with their friends and colleagues because of the fear of rejection and being avoided.

One-to-One: Strength or Beauty – The Warrior

These instinctual subtypes are based on avoiding or overcoming fear through their sheer will power and feet of physical bravery and strength or through their intellect’s strength and strong ideological position.

Type 7: The Epicure

Self-preservation: Family – The Gourmand

These instinctual subtypes usually enjoy an abundant lifestyle within friends and family.

Their main emphasis is on having a good conversation and sharing good ideas, planning fun projects, preparing meals, or dining out.

Social: Limitation/Sacrifice – The Utopian Visionary

These types of instinctual subtypes are the one who needs group and friends to express their love and social idealism.

They are the ones who are open to sacrificing themselves for the greater good of the community.

One-to-One: Suggestibility/Fascination – The Adventurer

These types of instinctual subtypes can be attracted easily by adventures, new ideas, and people, falling in a state of fascination or entertainment.

They can always put on their personal charm to lead people towards a new reign.

Type 8: The Protector

Self-preservation: Satisfactory Survival – The Survivalist

These instinctual subtypes are usually excess and aggressive which is channeled into their material security and physical survival.

They will survive at any cost or will go down fighting, they always try hard for their friends and family and will always fight for them.

Social: Friendship/Social Causes – The Group Leader/Gang Leader

These instinctual subtypes are best suited for the leadership role as their sense of injustice or powerlessness is overcome by being part of a group.

Their aggression and anger is mediated through the needs of the group and harnessed for a common agenda.

They are loyal to their family and friends and keep it at the top of their priorities.

One-to-One: Possession/Surrender – The Commander

This type of instinctual subtype uses self-assertion and forcefulness to control their partners.

As usual, they are unable to let go or adapt, a strong yearning for them can help them let go of their control and turn it towards their partner.

Type 9: The Mediator

Self-preservation: Appetite – The Collector

These instinctual subtypes generally excel at creating the daily rhythms and practical infrastructure that support daily life.

They also have a tendency to ignore personal needs and narcotize themselves with material consumption and food.

Social: Participation – The Community Benefactor

These instinctual subtypes blend well with the agenda and style of their family, different social groups, and friends gatherings.

They can show great selfless contributions to the common good and can be good leaders but sometimes they tend to ignore their personal priorities because of a comfortable social role.

One-to-One: Union – The Seeker

These instinctual subtypes have an urge to merge either with nature, partner, or spirit.

In real life, this can be problematic with keeping their personal boundaries and focus as they are easy to be distracted.

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FAQ about Instinctual Personality 

1.What is the difference between instinctive and instinctual?

Instinctual and instinctive can be used in case of each other as there is not much difference between the two.

However, the one main difference may be that instinctive is a more specific behavior by instincts where instinctual is general behavior by the instinct.

2. What is instinctual behavior?

The behavior performed by all members of a species in an organism is known as instinctive behavior.

They are generally a fixed type of pattern that is performed in response to a specific stimulus. 

3. What are the three basic human instincts?

The three basic human instincts are Sexual, Social, and Self-Preservation.


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