Dr. A.J. Drenth
For individuals who are neither strongly introverted nor extraverted (sometimes called “ambiverts”), there are certain items on the MBTI which can be very frustrating. Being forced to choose, for instance, whether they are reserved or talkative, easy or hard to get to know, can often feel unnatural and difficult. One reason for this, which has yet to be reflected in the MBTI content, is the influential role of intuition and openness to experience in social dealings.
Important Finding #1: Much to my surprise, research indicates openness to experience (a Big Five dimension that corresponds to Myers-Briggs intuition) is the personality dimension most closely related to social intelligence. It is not, as might be commonly believed, one’s degree of introversion or extroversion.
Important Finding #2: A 2008 study entitled, “The Effect of the Enneagram on Measurement of the MBTI Dimensions,” showed that the only dimension positively correlated with Enneagram 3 is intuition. Moreover, and perhaps more interestingly, 28% of introverted Threes were misreported as extroverts by the MBTI. Again, this diverges from what might be commonly predicted, as many students of type continue to associate the Three with extraversion.
Important Finding #3: Recent studies by James Reynierse and John Harker have shown that intuitives are to some extent more verbal, expressive, engaging, and communicative than sensing types.
In a nutshell, when it comes to how we presents in social situations, we can no longer afford to overlook the S-N dimension nor the relative strength of an individual’s preference in this dimension. The fact is, that those who show a strong preference for intuition will often exhibit social know-how, regardless of their preferences for introversion or extraversion.
Enneagram 3 & the INFP, INTP, INFJ, INTJ Types
So what does this have to do with the Enneagram 3? Based on my observations from forums and type communities, it seems that the INFP, INFJ, INTP, and INTJ are often slow to identify themselves as 3’s. There are a number of possible reasons for this. One is the strong attraction that INTPs and INTJs have to the Enneagram Five (5) profile. The Five’s self-identity is oriented to the intellect and INT types are often likeminded in this regard. INFP s and INFJs may be slower to consent to the Three designation because the Three is commonly described as displaying an element of vanity, diminished authenticity, and insincerity. In other words, the Three, from their perspective, may come across as morally deficient in the areas they find important.
Despite these tendencies, the study listed under Finding #2 above, indicates that once the potential MBTI shortcomings are recognized and the Enneagram Three type is properly explained, many intuitive introverts, including INFPs, INFJs, INTPs, and INTJs, will find resonance with the Enneagram Three (3) designation.
Perhaps the most salient features of Threes are their ambition, adaptability, and orientation to achievement. For intuitive introverts who have been historically uncertain with regard to their introversion and are highly driven to achieve, the Enneagram Three may serve to fill in at least some of the descriptive gaps that have been heretofore overlooked.