We dive into the background, methodologies, practical applications, pros and cons of these two popular personality tests to uncover which is right for you!
Updated
February 7, 2024

Enneagram and Big Five: Let's Determine Which is Right For You

We dive into the background, methodologies, practical applications, pros and cons of these two popular personality tests to uncover which is right for you!

Evaluating and reviewing the pros and cons of these two popular personality tests: Big Five (OCEAN) and Enneagram.

👉 TL;DR

The Enneagram and Big Five are distinct personality tests offering different perspectives. Enneagram focuses on nine interconnected personality types based on motivations and fears, while the Big Five assesses five broad traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability). Both tools provide valuable insights for personal growth and interpersonal understanding, with the choice depending on the desired outcomes and preferences.

Looking for a test to understand your team chemistry as a whole? Try TeamDynamics instead.

In this article:

In today's world of self-improvement and personal growth, there's a lot of buzz surrounding personality tests. Two of the most popular and widely recognized tests are the Enneagram and the Big Five Personality Test (sometimes also called the Five Factor Model or OCEAN). Both claim to provide valuable insights into your personality, strengths, and weaknesses, but how do they compare? In this blog post, we will dive into both of these tests, exploring their background, structure, and practical applications. By the end of this review, you should have a better understanding of which test might be right for you.

Backgrounds of Enneagram and Big Five

Enneagram: The Enneagram is an ancient system of understanding human personality that has its roots in various spiritual and philosophical traditions. It was initially developed by Oscar Ichazo in the 1950s and further refined by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson in the 1970s. The Enneagram consists of nine interconnected personality types, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. The system is based on the idea that everyone has a dominant type, which is determined by childhood experiences and shapes our worldview, motivations, and behavioral patterns.

Big Five: The Big Five Personality Test, also known as the Five-Factor Model (FFM), was developed in the 1980s by multiple researchers, including Paul Costa and Robert McCrae. It is grounded in empirical psychological research and is widely regarded as a reliable measure of personality traits. The Big Five consists of five broad dimensions of personality: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN). These dimensions are each comprised of multiple facets, providing a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of individual personality traits.

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Objectives and Structure of Enneagram and Big Five

Enneagram Big Five
Objective Help individuals understand their core type and how it influences their behavior. Provide a comprehensive understanding of an individual's personality traits and how they might interact with others
Structure The Enneagram system is based on a circle with nine points, each representing a distinct personality type:
1. The Perfectionist
2. The Helper
3. The Achiever
4. The Individualist
5. The Investigator
6. The Loyalist
7. The Enthusiast
8. The Challenger
9. The Peacemaker
The Big Five Personality Test is organized around five broad dimensions of personality:
1. Openness: A measure of creativity, curiosity, and intellectual interests.
2. Conscientiousness: A measure of organization, reliability, and self-discipline.
3. Extraversion: A measure of sociability, assertiveness, and enthusiasm.
4. Agreeableness: A measure of compassion, cooperation, and likability.
5. Neuroticism: A measure of emotional instability, anxiety, and moodiness.
Results Each type has its unique set of motivations, fears, and desires. Each dimension is scored on a continuum, with individuals falling somewhere between the two extremes.

Practical Applications of Enneagram and Big Five

Enneagram: The Enneagram is often used in personal development, coaching, and therapy, as it provides a framework for understanding an individual's core motivations, fears, and patterns of behavior. By identifying one's dominant type, the Enneagram can help individuals develop greater self-awareness, improve relationships, and navigate life's challenges more effectively. Many people also find the Enneagram's spiritual and philosophical roots appealing, as it provides a deeper understanding of human nature and the human condition.

Big Five: The Big Five Personality Test is used in various contexts, including therapy, coaching, and human resources. Its scientific grounding and broad applicability make it an ideal tool for understanding an individual's traits and how they might interact with others in both personal and professional settings. The Big Five has been used to predict job performance, relationship satisfaction, and even physical health outcomes. Due to its empirical basis, the Big Five is often seen as a more objective and reliable measure of personality compared to other tests.

Strengths and Limitations of Enneagram and Big Five

Enneagram Big Five
Strengths 1. Offers a rich and nuanced understanding of one's core motivations, fears, and desires.
2. Provides a useful framework for personal growth and self-improvement.
3. Appeals to those interested in spirituality and philosophy.
4. Can be helpful in understanding and improving relationships.
1. Grounded in empirical research, making it a reliable and valid measure of personality.
2. Provides a comprehensive understanding of personality traits.
3. Widely applicable to various contexts, such as therapy, coaching, and human resources.
4. Can predict important life outcomes, such as job performance and relationship satisfaction.
Limitations 1. Lacks empirical support compared to the Big Five.
2. Can be perceived as oversimplifying human personality by categorizing individuals into nine types.
3. May be less useful in predicting outcomes such as job performance or health.
1. May lack the depth and personal insight provided by the Enneagram.
2. Some individuals may find the scientific approach less appealing than the Enneagram's spiritual and philosophical roots.

One significant limitation shared by both the Enneagram and Big Five Personality Test relates to when these tests are applied to groups. Despite how frequently the Enneagram and Big Five tests are administered in the workplace, neither of them is well-suited for understanding the nuances of group dynamics that sit at the heart of most modern, team-based work.

That’s why we built TeamDynamics. TeamDynamics helps you objectively assess, describe, and act on the unique ways in which your team interacts to accomplish its shared work.

Put differently, TeamDynamics describes your team chemistry.

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Conclusion

Both the Enneagram and the Big Five Personality Test offer valuable insights into human personality, but they differ in their focus, structure, and applications. The Enneagram provides a rich, nuanced understanding of one's core motivations and fears, making it an excellent tool for personal growth and self-improvement. On the other hand, the Big Five, grounded in empirical research, offers a more comprehensive and objective measure of personality traits, making it ideal for predicting various life outcomes and understanding individual differences.

Ultimately, the choice between the Enneagram and the Big Five Personality Test comes down to personal preference and the specific insights you are looking for. If you are drawn to a more spiritual and philosophical understanding of human nature, the Enneagram may be the right choice for you. If you prefer a scientifically grounded approach that focuses on personality traits and their practical applications, the Big Five may be more suitable. And neither Big Five nor the Enneagram is designed to understand group personality or team chemistry.

When you're looking to improve the performance of your team, help your teammates work with other groups, or hire people who will fit in with your team, you should look for another behavioral assessment. Consider TeamDynamics, which is the only personality test built specifically for modern teams.

Whichever test you choose, remember that self-awareness is a critical first step towards personal growth and self-improvement. By understanding your personality, you can better navigate life's challenges and build more meaningful relationships with others.

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