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Enneagram meme


Supergee points to a two-question "Quick and Painless Enneagram Test." The Enneagram being (among other things) yet another model of personality types. (That Wikipedia article has a bunch of interesting stuff in it about the history of the Enneagram; looks like the symbol was first used (at least in modern times) by Gurjieff and Ouspensky.)

The test has two questions, each of which present three choices; there are thus obviously nine possible results. I took it and got a result that seemed reasonably accurate. But then I tried some alternate answers and got other results that seemed just as accurate.

It seems that I'm a One, Two, Five, and Nine. For each of those, about 3/4 of the description bullets seemed to match me pretty well, and at least one bullet in each of those categories was very accurate for me. I didn't see the Six outcome, but I gather that it would match me reasonably well too.

(On the other hand, I don't think any of the "you're definitely an x if you do y" cartoons on the results pages matched for me.)

In short, for me this test has the same problem that most personality tests have: the categorizations are so vague and broad that too many of them (roughly half in this case) seem to be accurate descriptions. (That may, of course, just be me; it may well be that most people do find one or two of the nine boxes significantly more accurate than the others in describing them.)

Of course, for the makers of personality tests, that's not a flaw; that's the hallmark of a good test, because it means almost anyone who takes the test will come away feeling that it described them well.

That's one reason I like the Myers-Briggs test, despite its flaws; it does a reasonably good job of putting me in one of its sixteen boxes (well, okay, actually midway between two of them), and the other categories aren't very good descriptions of me.

(But mostly I like the Myers-Briggs because it exposed me to the introvert/extrovert distinction, and specifically to the idea that extroverts gain energy from social interaction; it had never occurred to me that that could happen, and it explained a lot about my extrovert friends.)


Since Gurdjieff and Ouspensky were raving loonies, this makes me very very uninterested in this thing. My hippie uncle, the one who lives in a commune in Vermont, swears by it though.

Person-typing fascinates me, from astrology to more respectable efforts like the Meyers-Briggs. I have to say that in my small sample size, the M-B seems to have only about twice the specificity of the enneagram: instead of not rejecting about a third to a half of the enneagram types, people I've talked to don't reject about a sixth to a quarter of the M-B types (and which quarter can depend on who's writing the type descriptions).

My favorite moment of M-B metacriticism was reading that people of the type that I tested into on that particular run of the test "resist being labeled."

I gather that personality psychologists juggle a variety of models these days. There's an interesting comparative table here: http://www.personalityresearch.org/bigfive.html#table. (Elsewhere on that site, I found this "Big Five minitest," which appears to be the jumping-off point for that johari/nohari meme that I've seen filtering around lately.)

Oh, and how could I forget: did I ever mention the Hartman Value Profile to you? There was an interesting segment on Robert Hartman (no relation?) and his test at the end of the radio show "Time to Save the World" on This American Life. There's also an unofficial online Hartman Value Profile test, with a not-very-informative results page.