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Exploring the MBTI and Myers Briggs Personality Types and applications | Personality Pathways

Enneagrams and Personality Type

The Relationship between the Enneagram and the MBTI: Scoring
Pat Wyman, INFJ, M.Ed., L.P.C.

While others have focused on studying the statistical correlation of the Enneagram and the MBTI (Tom Flautt and Jerry Wagner among others), as a clinician, I have focused on studying people and noticing how these two typological systems express themselves within the same person. I have been using both systems with clients for many years and have seen consistent and reliable patterns emerge. From this experience, I have developed a model of therapy employing both typological systems as major tools in the process of deep emotional healing.

When I began working with both systems, it became obvious very quickly that each person can be seen from both perspectives. The Enneagram is a system of nine personality types, each with a distinctive set of identifying characteristics. It soon became evident to me that the Enneagram portion of personality acts as the Defense System providing a set of coping skills to protect the True Self. It did not take long to realize that the MBTI type was a profile of the "True Self." (See Myers and McCaulley, 1985 MBTI Manual, page 8). Through my work with clients and in workshops, I have discovered that the Enneagram portion of personality dominates during periods of stress and relaxes during periods of well-being.

Impact on Recorded Type
Another interesting pattern is how Enneagram type affects MBTI scores. Sometimes the attributes of a person's MBTI type and Enneagram attributes are compatible and the person feels internal congruence. For instance, typical characteristics of Judging types (MBTI "Js") are quite consistent with those of an Enneagram Three (Figure 1).

Judging (MBTI)

Decisive
Organized
Perseveres
Goal-oriented
Action-oriented
Timely
Systematic
Disciplined
Efficient

Three (Enneagram)

Assertive
Focused
Decisive
Organized
Goal-oriented
Efficient
Action-oriented
Workaholic tendency
Perseveres

Figure 1

Therefore, when a person who is both "J" and Three takes the MBTI, the "J" score is often quite clear - very little pulling the person towards the Perceiving side. However, if the person is both a "P" preference and an Enneagram Three, there is some internal conflict(See Figure 2.). This conflict is frequently evident in a less clear and sometimes inaccurate J/P dichotomy score.

Perceiving (MBTI)

Prefers more information Vs closure
Dislikes deadlines
Prefers time for reflection
No need for structure
Acquiescent
Flexible
Spontaneous
Casual
Not driven by time factors
Likes things open-ended

Three (Enneagram)

Decisive
Goal-oriented
Action-oriented
Organized and Structured
Assertive
Focused
Scheduled
Systematic
Efficient
Wants closure

Figure 2

Other Enneagram types affect the J/P scale. The Enneagram Seven is very compatible with the Perceiving type (Figure 3). The characteristics are very similar and the "P" defended as a Seven has a sense of internal harmony in this area.

Perceiving (MBTI)

Prefers more information to closure
Dislikes deadlines
No need for structure
Acquiescent
Flexible
Spontaneous
Casual
Not driven by time factors
Likes things open-ended
Postpones the unpleasant
Curious
Thinks in terms of options
Versatile

Seven (Enneagram)

Not focused
Avoids the unpleasant
Hates boredom
Curious
Dislikes routine/structure
Needs options/possibilities
Dislikes limits
Impulsive
Planning/talking replaces action
Needs variety
Difficulty managing time
Trouble with follow-through
Needs freedom/spontaneity

Figure 3

When a "P" who is also a Seven takes the MBTI, the "P" score is generally strong and definitive. The characteristics of the "P" type and the Seven support and reinforce each other.

However, when the situation is reversed and the Enneagram Seven is combined with a "J", there is considerable conflict (Figure 4).

Judging (MBTI)

Decisive
Timely
Goal-oriented
Organized
Systematic
Disciplined
Efficient
Structured
Scheduled
Need for closure
Values follow-through
Action-oriented

Seven (Enneagram)

Not focused
Avoids the unpleasant
Hates boredom
Dislikes limits
Dislikes routine/structure
Needs options/possibilities
Impulsive
Planning/talking replaces action
Needs variety
Difficulty managing time
Trouble with follow-through
Needs freedom/spontaneity

Figure 4

This configuration of "J" and Seven in the same individual results in internal confusion as well as inconsistent behaviors. When taking the MBTI, the J/P score may be questionable, appearing close to the center line.

The J/P scale is not the only scale affected by Enneagram type. Various Enneagram types can affect the scores on each of the four MBTI scales. For instance, the E/I scale can be affected by the Enneagram Three, Five, Seven and Nine and the T/F scale can be affected by the Enneagram Two, Three, Four and Five.

When the MBTI designation and the Enneagram type are highly compatible, such as the "J" and the Three and the "P" and the Seven, the result is more than just internal harmony and congruence. Mutually reinforcing qualities do not allow the person any internal latitude for another experience. This can result in the person being rather set in his/her ways and to be impatient with those who operate from a different perspective. For instance, it would be more difficult for a J-3 to be understanding of a P-7 than for a P-3 or a J-7 to understand a P-7. The P-3 and the J-7 each have some of the qualities of the P-7 and can understand and accept those qualities more easily.

Those who have MBTI and Enneagram types with conflicting qualities also have an easier time identifying where they are at any given moment. That is, when a J-7 is presenting all the Seven attributes, it is a sure sign that the person is operating out of the Defense System. This can be valuable information to help that person restore control to the True Self in order to live authentically.

Understanding the characteristics of the nine Enneagram types can be very helpful in interpreting MBTI scores. Using both the MBTI and the Enneagram can be enormously valuable.

Pat Wyman, INFJ and Enneagram Three, is a therapist in private practice. Her forthcoming book, Three Keys to Self-Understanding, to be released by CAPT focuses on using the MBTI and the Enneagram in conjunction with affective therapy. Pat can be reached at:patwyman@earthlink.net

For information on attending Pat Wyman's workshop, The MBTI® Instrument and the Enneagram: Keys to Self-Understanding (Dates: Denver, CO November 9, 2001, Chicago, IL July 26, 2002 and San Francisco November 8, 2002) contact the Center for Applications of Psychological Type at 1-800-777-2278 or e-mail at training@capt.org):

® MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Meyers Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries (aka meyers briggs or myers briggs).

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