Enneagram vs. MBTI: The Fundamentals and How the Systems Work

Updated: June 10, 2024
7 minutes read
Personality tests like the Enneagram can serve as invaluable tools in your journey of personal growth, offering insights into our behaviors, motivations, and interpersonal dynamics.  In this blog post, we'll explore both systems, their differences, their benefits, and how they can aid in self-discovery and personal development.
What you will learn

Embarking on a journey of personal growth often begins with understanding oneself better. Personality tests can serve as invaluable tools in this journey. Among the myriad of personality frameworks available, two popular systems stand out: the Enneagram and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Both systems have their unique value and can help you grow in different areas of your life. But how do you know which personality test is the right one for you?

What are the 5 main differences between the Enneagram and MBTI?

Enneagram vs. MBTI - What are the 5 main differences?

  1. Focus on Motivations vs. Behaviors:
    The Enneagram primarily focuses on underlying motivations, fears, and desires that drive behavior, providing insights into why individuals act the way they do. In contrast, the MBTI focuses on observable behaviors and preferences, such as communication styles and decision-making processes, without delving deeply into the underlying motivations.

  1. Number of Types:
    The Enneagram system categorizes individuals into nine distinct personality types, each with its core motivations and fears. These types are interconnected through dynamic relationships known as wings and lines of integration/disintegration. On the other hand, the MBTI classifies individuals into 16 personality types based on four dichotomies (extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, judging vs. perceiving), resulting in a broader spectrum of personality types.

  1. Dynamic vs. Static: 
    The Enneagram views personality as dynamic and evolving, with individuals capable of growth and transformation over time. Each Enneagram type is associated with both healthy and unhealthy traits, and individuals can move along the spectrum depending on their level of self-awareness and personal development. In contrast, the MBTI tends to view personality types as more static, reflecting stable preferences and tendencies that remain relatively consistent throughout life.

  1. Depth of Insight vs. Practical Applicability: 
    The Enneagram offers a deeper, more nuanced understanding of personality by uncovering unconscious motivations and patterns of behavior. It provides insights into core fears, desires, and defense mechanisms that shape individuals’ experiences. In contrast, the MBTI is often praised for its practical applicability in various settings, such as career counseling and team building, offering actionable insights into communication styles, decision-making processes, and work preferences.

  1. Origins and Cultural Influence: 
    The Enneagram has roots in ancient traditions and modern psychological theories, drawing from various sources such as Sufism, Christianity, and psychoanalysis. Its narrative-based approach to personality has gained popularity in recent decades, particularly in self-help and personal development circles. Conversely, the MBTI was developed in the mid-20th century by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, building upon the work of psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. It has been widely adopted in organizational settings, shaping corporate culture and leadership development programs.

Now, let’s dive into both systems and take a closer look at how they work, what they can do for you, and what they can help you achieve.

What is the Enneagram and how does it work?

What is the Enneagram and how does it work?

The Enneagram is a personality system that categorizes individuals into nine distinct types, each representing a set of core motivations, fears, and desires. Unlike many other personality frameworks, the Enneagram focuses not just on behavior but on underlying motivations that drive behavior. A short summary of each type can help you get a better feel for the system itself.

What are the benefits of the Enneagram?

One of the primary benefits of the Enneagram is its depth of insight into the human psyche. By understanding our core motivations and fears, we can gain clarity on why we behave the way we do and begin to recognize patterns that may be holding us back. This awareness can foster personal growth, improve relationships, and lead to greater self-acceptance and compassion.

  1. Deep Self-Understanding: Gain insights into your core motivations, fears, and desires.
  2. Enhanced Relationships: Improve communication and empathy by understanding others’ perspectives.
  3. Personal Growth: Recognize patterns of behavior and develop strategies for self-improvement.
  4. Spiritual Development: Explore spiritual aspects of personality and transcend ego-driven patterns.
  5. Holistic Approach: Embrace the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit in personal development.

Who is the Enneagram for?

The Enneagram is for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of themselves and others. 

The Enneagram is for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of themselves and others. It can be beneficial for individuals at various stages of life and in diverse circumstances, including:

Personal Growth Enthusiasts: If you’re on a journey of self-discovery and personal development, the Enneagram can offer valuable insights into your core motivations, fears, and desires. 

Relationship Seekers: Whether in romantic relationships, friendships, or familial connections, the Enneagram can enhance your understanding of interpersonal dynamics, cultivate empathy, improve communication, and navigate conflicts more effectively.

Professional Development Seekers: In the workplace, the Enneagram can be a powerful tool for enhancing teamwork, leadership skills, and organizational culture. It can help you tailor communication strategies, leverage individual strengths, and foster a more collaborative and productive work environment.

Therapy and Counseling Clients: Many therapists and counselors incorporate the Enneagram into their practice as a framework for self-exploration and personal growth. Individuals can gain deeper insights into their patterns of behavior, uncover unconscious motivations, and address underlying issues in therapy sessions.

Ultimately, the Enneagram is for anyone curious about human nature, interested in personal growth and open to exploring the complexities of personality. Whether you’re seeking greater self-awareness, stronger relationships, or enhanced professional success, the Enneagram can be a valuable tool for navigating life’s challenges and unlocking your full potential.

How do I find an accurate Enneagram test?

While there are many Enneagram tests available online, it’s essential to choose one that is reputable and well-regarded. Look for tests that provide detailed descriptions of each type and take into account the complexity and nuance of the Enneagram system. The Enneagram Institute offers a widely respected test that many find helpful in identifying their type.

We’ve compiled a list of the most accurate and best Enneagram tests out there.

What is MBTI and how does it work?

MBTI Dichotomies

The MBTI System (Source: SimplyPsychology)

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is another popular personality assessment that categorizes individuals into one of 16 different personality types based on four dichotomies: extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving. For example, an individual may be classified as an INTJ, indicating they are introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging.

Who is the MBTI for?

The MBTI is commonly used in various settings, including career counseling, team building, and personal development. 

Career Explorers: For individuals navigating career choices or considering a career transition, the MBTI can provide valuable insights into work preferences, communication styles, and preferred work environments. Understanding your MBTI type can help you identify suitable career paths, leverage your strengths, and make informed decisions about your professional trajectory.

Team Builders and Leaders: In team settings, the MBTI can enhance communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution by increasing awareness of team members’ personality differences. Leaders and managers can use MBTI insights to assemble diverse teams, capitalize on individual strengths, and foster a positive work culture that values inclusivity and mutual understanding.

Students and Educators: In educational settings, the MBTI can support student development and academic success by helping individuals identify their learning preferences and study habits. Educators can use MBTI insights to tailor teaching methods, accommodate diverse learning styles, and create a supportive learning environment that engages all students effectively.

Personal Growth Enthusiasts: For those on a journey of self-discovery and personal development, the MBTI can serve as a valuable tool for increasing self-awareness, enhancing emotional intelligence, and fostering holistic growth. By understanding their MBTI type, individuals can identify areas for improvement, set meaningful goals, and embark on a path of continuous self-improvement and fulfillment.

Overall, the MBTI is for anyone who is curious about personality psychology, interested in self-discovery and personal growth, and seeking practical insights to navigate various aspects of life, relationships, and work. Whether you’re a student, professional, leader, or simply someone interested in understanding yourself and others better, the MBTI can offer valuable insights and tools for personal and professional development.

What are the benefits of MBTI?

One of the key benefits of the MBTI is its practical applicability in a range of contexts. Whether you’re exploring potential career paths, seeking to improve team dynamics, or striving for personal growth, the MBTI can offer actionable insights that can be applied to real-world situations.

  1. Self-Awareness: Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Improved Communication: Enhance relationships by recognizing communication styles.
  3. Career Guidance: Identify suitable career paths and leadership styles.
  4. Effective Teamwork: Foster collaboration by appreciating diverse perspectives.
  5. Personal Growth: Set meaningful goals and develop new skills.

Where can I take the MBTI assessment?

The MBTI assessment is widely available online through certified practitioners and reputable websites. Many career centers, counseling offices, and corporate training programs also offer the assessment as part of their services. Be sure to choose a reliable source to ensure the accuracy of your results. 

We’ve compiled a list of the best personality tests and where to take them online here.

Which personality test should you take? Photo by marianne bos on Unsplash

Which personality test is right for me?

Ultimately, the choice between the Enneagram and MBTI depends on your personal preferences and goals. If you’re drawn to understanding deeper motivations and underlying fears, the Enneagram may be a better fit. If you’re more interested in practical applications and behavioral tendencies, the MBTI could be more suitable. Some individuals find value in exploring both systems to gain a more comprehensive understanding of themselves and others.

What do the results of both tests tell you?

The results from the Enneagram test provide insight into your dominant Enneagram type, which reflects your core motivations, fears, desires, and patterns of behavior. They offer a framework for understanding yourself more deeply, including your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for personal growth. Additionally, the results may reveal how your Enneagram type interacts with others and influences your relationships, communication style, and approach to various aspects of life. 

Conclusion: The Enneagram results serve as a tool for self-awareness, personal development, and fostering more fulfilling connections with others.

The results from the MBTI test provide insights into your personality preferences across four dichotomies: extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving. These results offer a framework for understanding how you perceive the world, make decisions, interact with others, and approach various aspects of life. They can also shed light on your communication style, work preferences, and leadership tendencies. 

Conclusion: The MBTI results serve as a tool for self-awareness, enhancing communication, career planning, and personal development.

Both the Enneagram and MBTI offer valuable tools for self-discovery and personal growth. By exploring these systems, we can gain insights into our unique personalities, enhance our relationships, and embark on a journey of self-awareness and fulfillment. Whether you resonate more with the Enneagram’s depth or the MBTI’s practicality, the key is to embrace the process of self-exploration and use these tools as guides on your path to personal development.

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