MBTI is more widely known and easier to use. Enneagram is more nuanced and scientifically validated. Neither is the best tool to improve team performance.
Updated
February 6, 2024

MBTI vs. Enneagram: An In-Depth Review

MBTI is more widely known and easier to use. Enneagram is more nuanced and scientifically validated. Neither is the best tool to improve team performance.

Enneagram vs. MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator): Which of these popular personality tests is right for you?

👉 TL;DR

MBTI and Enneagram are two distinct personality tests, each offering unique insights. MBTI identifies 16 personality types based on cognitive function preferences, while Enneagram examines nine interconnected types rooted in motivations and fears. Both tools are valuable for personal growth, self-awareness, and improved communication, with the choice depending on individual or organizational objectives.

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

In this article:

The MBTI and the Enneagram are two of the most popular tools for understanding an individual’s personality. And, like any tool, which you should choose depends on the task at hand, as well as who will be using it. 

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Enneagram are two leading personality tests

The MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) and the Enneagram are two widely-used tools for understanding people's personalities. The MBTI looks at how people see and understand information. The Enneagram focuses more on how feelings and thoughts affect a person’s behavior.

The MBTI measures how individuals perceive and process information. It was developed in the 1940s and 1950s by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs. The MBTI is based on Carl Jung's psychological theories, and uses a series of questions to determine an individual's preferences in four dimensions: extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perception. The test produces 16 different personality types from these dimensions, each of which is described as a four-letter abbreviation. The MBTI is widely used in education, counseling, and leadership development to improve communication, teamwork, and leadership skills.

The Enneagram is a personality framework that is used to understand the emotional and psychological motivations that drive people's behavior. Unlike the MBTI, which assigns individuals to one of 16 discrete personality types, the Enneagram recognizes that people can exhibit traits from multiple types and that personalities can change and evolve. The Enneagram identifies nine different personality types, each with unique characteristics and strengths. The Enneagram was introduced in the late-1960s and has been extensively tested and validated through empirical research. It is widely used in personal and professional development to improve self-awareness and relationships.

MBTI is easier to use and more widely known

The MBTI may be considered superior to the Enneagram because it is based on a well-established and widely accepted psychological theory. Carl Jung's concepts of extraversion and introversion, sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling, and judging and perceiving are fundamental in the field of personality psychology. 

Additionally, the MBTI is a straightforward tool that can quickly provide individuals with valuable insights into their personalities. 

The MBTI's 16 personality types
The MBTI's 16 personality types
While MBTI has more personality types (16) than the Enneagram (9), its four dimensions are simple to remember, and the opposite preferences in each dimension are intuitive. 

The MBTI can be administered quickly. It produces clear and concise results that individuals can use to better understand discrete areas of similarity and difference when comparing themselves to others. In contrast, the Enneagram is a more complex and abstract system that may be difficult for some individuals to remember, understand, and apply practically.

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Furthermore, the MBTI has been widely used in various settings, including education, counseling, and leadership development. Millions of people take the MBTI every year. Many organizations and institutions have found the MBTI to be an effective tool for improving communication, conflict resolution, and leadership skills. In contrast, the Enneagram has not been as extensively applied, and it may not have the same level of practical utility as the MBTI.

Overall, though the Enneagram and MBTI can provide valuable insights into personality, the MBTI offers a well-established, easy-to-use, and widely applied approach based on sound psychological theory.

Enneagram is more nuanced and has been extensively validated

The Enneagram may provide a more detailed and changing view of personality than the MBTI. The MBTI assigns people to one of 16 types, but the Enneagram recognizes that people can have traits from multiple types and that their personalities can change. This makes the Enneagram more flexible and adaptable than the MBTI, which can sometimes be overly rigid and simplistic.

The Enneagram's 9 personality types
The Enneagram's 9 personality types

Another advantage of the Enneagram test vs. Myers-Briggs is that it provides a more complete understanding of how personality traits are connected and dependent on each other. The MBTI focuses on four main dimensions. However, the Enneagram recognizes that these traits are not separate and that they can affect and work with each other in complex ways. This allows the Enneagram to give a more comprehensive and accurate picture of a person's personality.

The Enneagram has also been tested and proven through research, while the validity of the MBTI has long been debated. 

Many psychologists and personality experts have questioned the reliability and validity of the MBTI. They say that it is based on old and unscientific theories and that it doesn't truly show the complexity of human personality. In contrast, the Enneagram has been shown to be a reliable measure of personality, with predictive power and high levels of internal consistency.

While both the MBTI and the Enneagram can give valuable information about personality, the Enneagram offers a more detailed, changing, and scientifically-based approach that is better at understanding the complexities and subtleties of human behavior.

MBTI vs. Enneagram: Which you should choose depends on what you’re trying to accomplish

Personality tests like the Enneagram and MBTI are tools. And like any tool, which you should choose depends on the task at hand, as well as who will be using it. 

Both frameworks can be useful in different situations. It is ultimately up to the individual to decide which one is right for them.

The MBTI is most often used in the workplace to help people understand their strengths and weaknesses. It also helps them understand the points of similarity and difference between themselves and others. It is quick to learn, intuitive, and widely known. As a result, it is especially helpful for improving 1-to-1 communication and resolving conflicts between individuals.

The Enneagram test vs. Myers Briggs is better suited for personal development to help people understand their motivations, fears, and core beliefs. Its holistic framework is nuanced, scientifically validated, and can enhance self-awareness. It can also help the advanced user understand how the nine Enneagram personality types relate to one another.

While great for understanding individual traits, neither of these tests is ideal for assessing team dynamics or team chemistry

Both the Enneagram and MBTI are designed to assess an individual's personality, and they can be valuable tools for doing so. They can also shed light on interpersonal relationships, and the points of friction that may emerge in 1-on-1 interactions. However, despite how frequently both 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.

Equipped with your TeamDynamics, you can take action to improve your group dynamics and performance

  • Build your team by defining team culture and values, setting actionable team norms, and conducting high-impact team offsites;
  • Manage your team better by coaching team members, turbocharging cross-team collaboration, and resolving team conflicts; 
  • Recruit and hire more effectively by honing your recruiting pitch, refining your interview process, and accelerating new hire onboarding;

And much more!

The right tools make all the difference

The MBTI and the Enneagram are both useful personality tests. The MBTI is simple, descriptive, positive, and widely known. The Enneagram is nuanced, holistic, and scientifically validated. Both can be useful for understanding yourself and the individuals around you. However, the key to getting the most out of these personality tests is knowing when to use them, and when not to. And neither the MBTI 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.

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