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Enneagram Test FAQ

I have received many requests for interpretation of test scores. Please understand that it is difficult to interpret a test score without knowing the test taker. Also, taking the test is often a starting point for self-examination and self-understanding. Your true type is often the the highest-scoring type, or the second/third highest scoring type. So it is helpful to use the test result as a hint rather than the final answer.

To determine your true type, try reading up on the type descriptions for types in which you scored high. If one really fits, that's often a much better indication of your type. You can find several references on the main page. I especially recommand Tom Chou's An Introduction to the Enneagram.

Q. Does one need at least a certain score to signal a "preference"?

A. No, there is no magic number. Depending on the number of questions you have answered, your basic type should be the one with the highest score, or among those with highest 2-3 scores.

Q. What if I score equally high in several types, or my top scores are very close?

A. Try reading the descriptions for these types, you might find the one that really is your basic type. Or take the test again in a few days, and see if your answers change. Another alternative is to have several of your close friends take the test for you. Believe it or not, sometimes they know you better than you think. :)

Q. How can I be a One when my desk is always a mess? How can I be an Eight if I'm not at all macho?

A. Enneagram is good at measuring people's motivation, not action. There's no definite rules that Ones must be neat. Their focus maybe on other things, such as being exact about outcome of experiments. Similarly, Eights can be strong without being macho.

Q. My test says I'm a Six, but I think I'm a Two. Is that possible?

A. I tend to view taking the test as a starting point to help us examine ourselves, rather than the answer to what type we are are. Reading up on the description of the types may help you find your true type. Also, many of the types share similar traits, even though the underlying motivations may be quite different. So it is quite possible that you are a Two.

Q. Can I be both a six and a nine? I scored exactly the same on each.

A. I believe people have only one fundamental type. That's the motivation that drives you for most of your life. However, many types may have similar traits, which makes it hard to really type people: both sixes and nines are friendly and agreeable. But sixes are friendly because having connection with people makes them feel secure, while nines are friendly because getting along with people helps them keep peace. You might want to read up on the description of the different types to determine what's your type.

Q. How do I interpret a score that's even in most categories? Especially since I believe I'm a Six after having read a book about Enneagram?

A. If you feel you're a 6, that is quite likely. As with other types, 6's can come in multiple flavors. Some 6's like to hang out with a group of people they feel secure with, and tend to adopt the characteristics of that group. Others feel they need to improve their weaknesses so they can feel secure about themselves, which may also lead to a more balanced personality. But the motivation in both cases is the need for security.

If all this sounds vague, it's because it's very hard to interpret a score without knowing the person. It might help to talk to your friends who are also interested in Enneagram. Enneagram is only a tool that can help us understand ourselves and our relationships better. Ultimately, it's us who must make the journey of discovery.

Q. How strongly can momentary stress situations influence the result?

A. When you answer the test, it's best to think about how you've been for the most part of your life, rather than what you are now, at a particular moment. This may take away some of the effect of stress on test result. Of curse, stress can also change how you view your past life. So taking the test again when you're feeling less stressful may be a good idea.

Q. What if I score very high scores outside of my "wings" and not on the lines of integration or disintegration?

A. What that indicates is that human personality is very complicated. Depending on your individual experience, you can be influenced by several types. After all, enneagram personality system measures what people are driven by -- Type 1, the need to be right; Type 2, the need to be loved, etc.. So it makes sense that we are driven by a combination of different motives. One of these may be stronger than all others, because it's the one as a child we've been conditioned with. This is thus our dominant type. This type can go through integration and disintegration, but so can the other types. By understanding and accepting the full personality makeup of ourselves, rather than restricting ourselves to one particular type/wing, we can understand ourselves better.

Q. Is it possible to have software like this on a stand alone PC?

A. The test provided comes from Don Riso's book Discovering Your Personality Type: The Enneagram Questionaire (Houghton Mifflin Company). I have provided an on-line version of the test to make it easier to use. But for people who do not have internet access, it is best to go back to the book, which also has a lot of other useful information. You can find the book from most bookstores.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me at becca@alum.mit.edu.

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