Discover The Big Three: Should you use the Enneagram, MBTI or Big 5?

What is the difference between the big three?

The Enneagram, The Big 5 and the MBTI make out the big three, top most used personality tests worldwide. There is also a runner up model called DiSC. Which one should you use? Let’s look at their main takeaways.

The Enneagram

  • Based on Carl Jung
  • Archetypes
  • Nine personality types
  • Emotions/Drives
  • Personal growth

Big 5/OCEAN

  • Based on applied science
  • Statistics
  • No personality types
  • Social behaviour
  • Personal development

The Big Three in short

Every system is specialised to do something different. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator was built to help people find their ideal career or to help people decide what to study.

The Enneagram was built to help people process past negative experiences and bad patterns in relationships and life, helping people grow past negative tendencies or difficult emotional struggles.

The Big Five was built to help people improve themselves, for example helping a reserved person become more outgoing.

Outgoing
Reserved
Openness
Traditionality
Agreeableness
Disagreeable
ConscientiousnessNeuroticism
Stability
Extroverted
Introverted
Intuition
Sensing
Feeling
Thinking
Judging
Perceiving
Assertiveness
Turbulence

The Enneagram focuses on nine different types but cannot be systematised in the same way as other systems because it does not use dichotomies in the same way the other methods do. Instead, we can talk about nine different types

Enneagram 1
The Reformer
Enneagram 2
The Giver
Enneagram 3
The Performer
Enneagram 4
The Individualist
Enneagram 5
The Sage
Enneagram 6
The Loyalist
Enneagram 7
The Explorer
Enneagram 8
The Ruler
Enneagram 9
The Mediator
Social Instinct
The Everyperson
Sexual Instinct
The Lover
Self-preservation Instinct
The Innocent

Connections between the different systems?

Despite the many differences, these systems all share many similarities, and people often type similarly in different systems. But they can all tell different truths about you as a person and they all see you from different perspectives.

ExtroversionSensingThinkingJudging
Enneagram 7Social InstinctEnneagram 5Enneagram 8
Self-preservation InstinctEnneagram 1Enneagram 2Enneagram 4
IntroversioniNtuitionFeelingPerceiving

Here you can see some correlations between the MBTI and The Enneagram.

ExtroversionSensingThinkingJudging
OutgoingnessLow opennessLow agreeablenessHigh conscientiousness
ReservednessHigh opennessHigh agreeablenessLow conscientiousness
IntroversioniNtuitionFeelingPerceiving

And above you can see connections between the MBTi and the Big Five/OCEAN model. Connections are not complete, and do not overlap perfectly, but they can help you see similarities between different systems.

What is the difference between the three systems?

Every system was also built on different foundations, and we see the Big Five as the system with the most popular scientific appeal. The Big Five or OCEAN model is based on what we can measure and study statistically in people. That means it is primarily a social or behaviouralistic science. The MBTI is primarily focused on self-assessed values and interests and focuses mainly on cognitive psychology. The MBTI has primarily sought research into neuroscience to verify its claims.

The Enneagram has primarily taken an interest in Carl Jung’s Archetypal psychology and so it has focused on traditional or historical roles and characteristics by focusing on nine unique personality myths. That means, the myth of the Caregiver or the myth of the Ruler or the myth of the Sage. The Enneagram primarily references storytelling and people’s explanations of their deeper life struggles and their unique hero’s journey or quest in life to define type and personality.

The Enneagram then is emotional in its roots, it focuses on our drives and primary instincts, fight or flight, connect or avoid, get angry or stay calm? The MBTI is values-based in it’s approach, it focuses on what gives you energy, what you like, what you dislike. The Big Five is primarily focused on your social behaviour, how you act in a group, at work, or around others. This makes sense because behaviour is much more easy to measure and validate, while thoughts and feelings are harder to prove scientifically. But that does not make it more personally valuable.

Which system should you use?

Use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to help you find your ideal career, education or to help you find your ideal partner in life.

Then use the Enneagram to reflect on how you can become more happy with your work and family and relationships.

Finally, use the Big Five to correct personality flaws you have to become a more well rounded and balanced individual, and more successful at work and in life.

What about DiSC?

DiSC is a runner up model focused on four personality types based on four colours, red, yellow, green and blue. Red is for Dominant, Blue for Conscientious, Green for Steadiness and Yellow for Influence. DiSC is a model that focuses on:

  • How you are in a group
  • What role you tend to serve to other people
  • How you interact with others

It can be best used to build strong teams and to make sure that you as a group or workplace can interact well together.

Which systems do you use and how has personality psychology helped you in your life?

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