Mistyping yourself or others isn’t as unusual as you might think. Because the Enneagram does more than analyze behavior, merely looking at the way you act won’t necessarily give you the right impression of your underlying motivation. As a consequence, quite a number of people end up with the wrong type, sometimes for years. That’s obviously not ideal. After all, the main goal of the Enneagram is to help you gain self-knowledge. But if you have misidentified yourself, the Enneagram will have a hard time helping you. Below you will find more background information on misidentifications, how they happen and why. We encourage you to read this section first. But if you want to, you can of course jump directly to the misidentifications for your type. We have also written a small guide that will help you become sure you found your right Enneagram type. Read it here.
Humans are complex beings. While the basics of the Enneagram are easy to learn, it also makes room for this complexity of human personality. Which makes it more complex than it seems. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a thorough understanding of how the Enneagram works – not just concerning mistypes, but in general. Good thing we have you covered: Learn more about it here.
For people new to the Enneagram especially, the first reason to get a wrong type is simply not having a good understanding of the differences between the nine types yet. It’s easy to confuse some types if you haven’t yet encountered enough people of that type in real life. The more you work with the Enneagram and see what different types look like, the more you will gain an understanding for them. You can learn about each of the nine types here.
If you only look at the actions of a type without looking at the deeper motivation behind those actions, you can easily mistake one type for the other. Different types can act in almost the same way in many situations, but the reason they do so will be very different. You should always keep that in mind when looking at your own type, but especially when you’re trying to type others. We cover this in each misidentification description. So check those out at the bottom of the page each time you aren’t sure.
Another reason types are often confused is when they are thought of in a too narrow way. Two of the most common ones are: Thinking that Fours are creative, so if you’re the creative type, you most be a Four; and thinking that Twos are good with people, so if you’re a people person, you must be a Two. But while those traits certainly apply to these types, they only make up a fraction of what these types are and give a very wrong impression. Every type can be creative, and many types of the Enneagram are on the extroverted spectrum. So don’t stop at the summaries, but make sure you really understand everything that characterizes each type. Again, to learn more, check out the type descriptions.
Enneagram types aren’t one-dimensional or static – just as people aren’t. Your type will be heavily influenced by your wing, your level of maturity and your current state of mind. Every type can access different behaviours when they’re under stress or when they’re at peace. People who are very mature in their type can also access many patterns from other types, since they’re no longer fixated on their own type. Especially when typing others, all these things have to be taken into account. To learn more, you can find everything you need to know about wings, levels of health and stress/peace behavior on our site.
On top of all that, no person always shows every single trait of their type, and especially not at the same time. Very healthy types will not show the unhealthiest possible behaviors of their type, just as very unhealthy types won’t show the healthiest aspects of their type. You can’t be stable and neurotic at the same time. So you might find significant aspects of a type missing from a person’s personality, because they have either not grown into them yet or already outgrown them. You can learn more about the levels of health in our type descriptions.
Lastly, many people mistype themselves simply because they first and foremost followed the opinion of someone else as to which type they are. While an outside opinion can be helpful, you should never rely on it alone. Typing others isn’t magic, but it isn’t simple either. Why is it so difficult? Because you almost never have a full picture of the other person. You need to work with incomplete information. And when you do that, the chance to infer a wrong type from rough observation becomes very high. This is when the Enneagram is abused most often for stereotyping people. To actually find out another person’s right type is a skill that needs to be learned carefully and humbly, even though everyone can get proficient at it. We talk about this in detail in our section on how (not) to use the Enneagram.
While every type on the Enneagram can potentially mistype as any other type, three types are especially likely to do so, which is why they get their extra entry here:
Type Threes invest a lot of energy into projecting an image that makes them fit in and be popular in a certain area – most often in their career. Depending on the image they choose, they can test higher in other types as their own because that’s the person they want to appear to be, even though that’s not actually them. Threes who want to be seen as artists may test high for Type Four, as intellectuals for Type Fives, as Enterpreneurs as Type Seven or Eight, as moral leaders as Type Ones. If this sounds like it could apply to you, the most helpful (but also most difficult) question you can ask yourself goes: “Is that really me, or is that merely who I would like to be?”
Sixes often connect very strongly to the values and motivations of the people they choose as their authority figures, even if those convictions aren’t genuinely their own. Because those values can come from multiple sources, Sixes can often have scores that seem to be all over the place. Unintentionally, they aren’t answering based on the values they have themselves arrived on, because that’s exactly what’s difficult for Sixes: being confident in their own opinions and values. If you feel like you’re every type and none at the same time, ask yourself: “Whose voice is giving the answers to this test? Is it really my own, or is it the voice of someone I put a lot of trust in?”
Type Nine is without question the type that mistypes themselves most often. It’s connected with the nature of the Type itself: Nines have the biggest capacity of all types to assume the views of other types because they are so unselfconscious. As a result, they have the least defined sense of self. This can take many forms. Most common are Nines who mistakenly assume the type of their partner because they so strongly identify with them. Another common thing owes to cultural influences: Many female Nines think they are Twos because there’s still a misguided stereotype in our culture associating womanhood with the helping, self-neglecting nature of Twos. Male Nines on the other hand often think they are Fives because they mistake their own unassuming thinking with the thinking nature of the Five. If, similarly to Sixes, you feel like you can understand the view of every type in the same way, ask yourself this: “What’s my view?” If the answer seems vague and undefined (and not because you’re afraid of it, but simply because it doesn’t seem to exist), check out the description of Type Nine and see if you can find yourself in it.