Are you ‘The Achiever’ or ‘The Enthusiast’? Why so many people—including your boss—are obsessed with the Enneagram test
The Enneagram, to its subscribers and skeptics, is different from other personality tests.
Unlike attachment theory, which was founded by psychologist and psychiatrist John Bowlby in the mid-20th century, or even the less science-driven 5 Love Languages, created by a pastor who conducted decades of couples counseling, the Enneagram test has murky origins that are based in neither science nor experience.
“It’s one of the more mysterious [tests] to me in terms of where types come from and on what basis it lies,” said David Watson, a professor of personality psychology at Notre Dame University. “It’s a bit obscure to me.”
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For some academic psychologists, the popularity of the tests serves as a mark against them.
“I used to be much more negative about them because they are so popular,” said Robin Edelstein, a psychology professor who studies personality and relationships at the University of Michigan.
The fact that some people pay for their results or for coaching also gives Edelstein pause.
She does, though, see some value in the tests. While she wouldn’t use the tests to make any “important life decisions,” she can appreciate their ability to springboard thoughtful discussion, she said.
“The most useful way to use them is to spark conversation,” she said. “Think about, ‘Here are the ways I’m different from other people.’ That might be helpful in understanding yourself.”