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What's the best Enneagram test?

To try to answer this question, I first selected three of the best-selling tests:

    1.  The Stanford Enneagram Discovery and Inventory Guide (SEDIG), by David Daniels*
    2.  The Wagner Enneagram Personality Style Scales (WEPSS), by Jerome P. Wagner
    3.  The Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI), by Don Riso and Russ Hudson

(* The SEDIG is now referred to as the Essential Enneagram Test, and is part of Daniel's book The Essential Enneagram.)

I am not affiliated with the makers of any of the above tests.  This webpage reports preliminary results from 15 people who took at least 2 of the 3 tests.  Some of these subjects were part of an ongoing twin study, others are people I know or work with.

Before analyzing the test results, each individual received two independent determinations of Enneagram type.  In most cases, these consisted of two in-depth interviews (one by myself, one by Betsy Maxon, an Enneagram trained collaborator).  In some cases, the individual received an interview and also studied enough of the Enneagram to determine their own types.  If these two measures were in disagreement, more interviews were conducted until they agreed.

When we were confident we had the person's true Enneagram type to the best of our abilities, we compared it to the test results:
 
Test
Accuracy of highest score
RHETI
27%
WEPSS
33%
SEDIG
58%

In the above table, I have highlighted the best test in red font.  The SEDIG (now called the Essential Enneagram Test) did the best by far, matching the independent assessments 58% of the time, while the RHETI did the worst, matching the assessments only 27% of the time.

However, all of these tests suggest several possible types for the test-taker.  Hence, we also examined how often a person's "true" type was among the top three types suggested by the test:
 
Test
Probability that true type is among top 3 scores
Accuracy of highest score
Accuracy of 2nd
highest score
Accuracy of 3rd highest score
RHETI
63%
27%
18%
18%
WEPSS
93%
33%
33%
27%
SEDIG
83%
58%
25%
0%

Again, the RHETI was disappointing - the person's independently assessed type was among the highest RHETI scores only 63% of the time.  The WEPSS improved dramatically when the criteria for correctness was broadened, giving the person's assessed type among the top 3 scores 93% of the time.  The SEDIG again performed fairly well.

Why did the WEPSS improve so much when the top 3 types were considered?  When I looked at the raw data, I noticed that the WEPSS sometimes gave the person's wing as the highest score, and the person's type as the 2nd or 3rd highest score.  About half my participants had a wing-type reversal on the WEPSS.  No other test showed this effect.  Indeed, no other test even identified wings with any notable accuracy.


It should be noted that this study is only a preliminary pilot study.  To be more confident of its findings, the size of this study needs to be increased.  It would also be helpful to increase the number of independent assessments of type.  However, it is notable that my preliminary conclusion (regarding the relatively high accuracy of the SEDIG) is consistent with other academic studies.

These preliminary findings suggest that the SEDIG might be best for identifying a person's type, and the WEPSS would be helpful to confirm type and critical for identifying wings.

I also want to point out one more issue that I feel is very important.  The advertising for the RHETI claims a 72% overall accuracy rate in its advertising.  However, this 72% statistic refers to internal consistency.  This means that the various items on the test are consistent with each other.  This does NOT mean that the test is 72% consistent with the Eneagram - just that the various test questions are consistent with EACH OTHER, which is a much different issue.

What's the simplest test?

My volunteers completed the SEDIG in an average of about 10-15 minutes.  In contrast, the RHETI required about 30-40 minutes.  Many of my volunteers said the RHETI seemed like the most "substantial" test, as it required the most thinking.  Indeed, for the purposes of self-discovery, its ability to stimulate self-analysis is unparalleled, making it a notable test for that reason alone.  However, it remains one of the longest tests to complete, as well as the most expensive test ($10/copy), and in this one study, one of the least consistent with independent measures of type.

It is extremely difficult to construct an accurate psychological test, and it is worth noting that all the tests perform far above chance levels (11%).  But the tests are no substitute for understanding yourself and the Enneagram.  Based on the preliminary results of this study, it would seem that the SEDIG is not only the simplest test to take, but also one of the more accurate tests.  The WEPSS also performed remarkably well, when one included the top 3 scores and not just the highest.

Here is a summary of price and availability of the three tests.  Most of them may be freely available for research use:
 
Test Cost (excludes sales tax) Test format, approximate time required Where to order
RHETI $10 per copy 144 sentence pairs, 30-40 minutes Amazon.com
WEPSS $49.50 for 25 copies
(unit cost: $1.98)
200 words, 20 minutes http://www.wpspublish.com/wpsf06s06b.htm
SEDIG $8, and is part of a book: The Essential Enneagram 9 paragraphs, 10-15 minutes Amazon.com


The opinions and views on this page are my own.  I am not affiliated with the designers or publishers of any Enneagram test.

Updated April 29, 2003