One of my favorite pastimes as a type theorist is exploring how different personality models overlap and correlate with each other. For instance, in our popular post, Myers-Briggs / MBTI – Enneagram Correlations, we consider how each Enneagram type corresponds to various Myers-Briggs types / preferences. Examining personality through the lens of multiple models can help us achieve a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of who we are.
In this post, we will focus our attention on the Enneagram 4 and Enneagram 5 types. Type junkies may already know that most Fours and Fives are Myers-Briggs introverts (I) and intuitives (N), with the majority of Fives being INTP and INTJ types (i.e., “INTs”) and Fours being INFP and INFJ types (i.e., “INFs”). These may well be the clearest and most consistent type overlaps between these two personality models. In types 4 and 5, the Enneagram seems to have effectively captured the essential personality of a broad swath of INFs and INTs.
Among the more interesting features of the Enneagram is its notion of “wings,” which suggests that, in addition to our primary type, we will exhibit certain features of one of two neighboring types on the Enneagram diagram. Thus, Fours are said to possess either a 3 or 5 wing, respectively expressed as “4w3” or “4w5,” and Fives a 4 or 6 wing (“5w4” or “5w6”).
Our objective in this post is to better understand why Fours and Fives might gravitate to a certain wing versus the other. To aid our analysis, we will enlist the Myers-Briggs judging (J) -perceiving (P) dichotomy, as well as the turbulent (T) – assertive (A) variable. Those unfamiliar with the latter are encouraged to consult my recent post, Turbulent (T) vs. Assertive (A): Overlaps with Neuroticism & the Myers-Briggs. In a nutshell, turbulent types (e.g., INFP-T), typically score higher on the Big Five’s neuroticism scale, exhibiting greater emotional volatility and negative emotions than their assertive counterparts.
Enneagram 4 & 5 Wing Preferences (4w5 vs 4w3, 5w4 vs 5w6)
Fours and Fives are among the most introverted of the Enneagram types. Both exhibit a similar proclivity to withdraw for the sake of self-reflection or self-preservation. This resembles the behavior of turbulent types who, due to their inherent sensitivity and vulnerability to stress, are inclined to retreat from the world. Hence, when Fours take a 5 wing or vice-versa, they are in many ways doubling down on their introverted propensities.
The other option is for Fours to adopt a 3 wing and Fives a 6 wing. What these wings have in common is a stronger penchant for doing. Enneagram type 3, commonly dubbed “The Achiever,” is clearly more assertive, outgoing, and thicker-skinned than the Five. Consequently, Fours who adopt a 3 wing (i.e., 4w3) are generally more practical and productive than the 4w5 subtype.
Similarly, the 5w6 tends to be thicker-skinned and, at least by external standards, more productive than the 5w4 type. In their classic Enneagram book, Personality Types, Don Riso and Russ Hudson explained it this way:
The Six-wing gives this subtype [5w6] a great ability to cooperate with others and to bring a disciplined, persistent approach to their endeavors. There is more aptitude and interest in the practical matters of life, and with sufficient talent…they can combine their innovation with business savvy, sometimes with very lucrative results.
As discussed in my aforementioned post on turbulent vs. assertive types, the perceiving (P) and turbulent (T) variables tend to reinforce with another, as do the judging (J) and assertive (A) variables. We can thus think of the 3 and 6 wings as having more J and A qualities, and the 4 and 5 wings as having more P and T qualities:
4 & 5 Wings = More P-Like & Turbulent
3 & 6 Wings = More J-Like & Assertive
In this light, these are the expected and most theoretically coherent Myers-Briggs – Enneagram type combinations:
That said, we know that for many people, the P-J and T-A variables don’t align so neatly, as is true for INTP-A, INTJ-T, INFP-A, and INFJ-T types. Predicting the Enneagram wing preference for these four types is far more difficult.
The above insights have brought a lot of clarity to my understanding of the types. I’ve long sought to understand, for instance, why INTJs and INTPs both frequently test as 5w4s. This is especially perplexing if we’re only thinking in terms of J-P differences. But once we incorporate the turbulent variable, it’s easier to understand why an INTJ might be a 5w4.
Another factor worth mentioning is the inferior function. Namely, if INTJs (or other IJs) invest a disproportionate amount of time and energy into their inferior function (i.e., Extraverted Sensing for INTJs and INFJs) as opposed to their auxiliary judging function (Te or Fe), they may, in effect, operate more like P types.
This discussion also sheds light on why so many people are confused about their J-P preference. If you are a turbulent J or assertive P struggling to know your type, any amount of type confusion you may have is understandable. These combinations not only complicate the process of determining one’s Enneagram wing, but also one’s Myers-Briggs type! If you’re in this boat, understanding the T-A variable may help clarify for your personality type.
To clarify or better understand your Myers-Briggs type, be sure to check out our latest book:
My True Type: Clarifying Your Personality Type, Preferences & Functions
Enneagram 4 Profile | Enneagram 5 Profile
How Enneagram Types 1, 4, and 5 Approach Truth & Influence Others
raquel roderick says
I’ve done my ENFP test almost a hundred times. Everyone who knows, knows I’m the face of ENFP lol. As much as I really wish I wasn’t, I’m also a 4 through and through. I feel and respond to the world exactly like a 4w3. Highly creative. Highly introverted, jealous, hard on myself, etc etc yet highly sociable when you can actually get me to a party and also highly in desperate need of working through my processes out-loud, albeit online and sometimes if its really bad, on the phone. What advice do you have for people like me?
I normally test as an INTP-A, my main enneagram is 5, but my second highest is 8. I don’t know if that is a tendency.
A.J. Drenth says
Hello Mathias, I think it’s fairly unusual for INTPs to test as Eights. It’s more common among ENTPs. However, type 8 is considered the “direction of integration” for Fives, so it may be a sign of growth and balance.
I am not sure I quite catch your reasoning in linking judging with achieving(3) and perceiving with… Well… Investigating(5)… In type 4.
Wing five seems to give the analytical slant to personality. So the lack of achievement might not be the consequence of turbulence but of learning for learning sake and not taking any action.
I would be more interested to read the correlation with the subtypes – self preservation, social and sexual. With one of these being a counter type, might be interestingt to see how it influences infj and infp distribution within the type 4 and whether it influences the wing preference.
It is my understanding that one wing preference is in any case the matter of development, so the balancing the other wing might be a result of greater maturity, so the infj and ifnp for example might exhibit greater 3 or 5 wing preference at differentsstages of life.
A.J. Drenth says
Hello Anna, Thanks so much for your comment. I appreciate and agree with your point that, in the case of the 4w5, “the lack of achievement might not be the consequence of turbulence but of learning for learning sake.” Well put. As discussed in the post, however, the T-A variable may influence wing preference in Fours. Namely, Threes are among the most assertive of the Enneagram types and the 4w5 is often high in turbulence. That said, the T-A variable, at least in theory, is supposed to be independent of the other preferences, so there will be plenty of exceptions. I’m simply fleshing out some of the conceptual and to some extent, empirical, overlaps.
Hmm, interesting. I’m an NeFi and a type four wing three. My NiFe friend is type five wing four. Enneagram theory is not directly related to Jungian Typology, and while characteristics of particular types overlap, I would not make a significant comparison between the two. The focus of Enneagram types is motivations, not characteristics — and when one adds the complexity of the instinctual subtypes (for example, the sexual (sx) type four is often mistyped as an Enneagram 8, a type you would likely associate with a dominant or auxiliary Te function) the comparison between the Enneagram and Myers Briggs types breaks down entirely. ;)
A.J. Drenth says
Thanks Annalia for your comment. I understand that these two taxonomies have somewhat different emphases, but there’s still substantial trait overlap among the types, especially between the types discussed in this post. I respectfully disagree with your point about the comparison between the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs types “breaking down entirely” when instinctual subtypes are considered. While there may be occasional outliers where a 4 mistypes as an 8, this by no means negates the existence of correlations between the two frameworks.
This tracks for me. I test strongly as both INFP and an Enneagram 4, with the 5 wing making most sense for me. I always find the guidance for both really helpful except in the area of career. Both tell me I’m an artist and, while I love the arts, I have very little skill in them. My skills are in admin jobs that I hate.
What data, if any, leads you to the insight that 4 and 5 overwhelmingly correspond to INFP and INTP personalities?
DIscussing on type forums such as reddit. it is abundantly clear that this seems to be the case , assuming some minimal accuracy of self typing.
In any case, interesting piece. Ive been following your work for years and appreciate the growth of personality junkie over the years!
I came to enneagram after jungian typology via mbti, and after a couple years of study, Im fairly certain I am a 4w5 INTP. What is interesting to me more recently has been distinguishing between emotional thoughts, and mental thoughts. The enneagram purports 3 different fundamental ‘bodies’ , 4 being in the emotional, and 5 in the mental, or head. I find my mind oscillates between the two, and in the dialogue of introverted thinking, the 5 wing supports as a sort of objective critique of the subjective feeling nature of 4. Its a conflicting existence to say the least haha. Look forward to more work being done at the cross section of enneagram and cognitive functions.
A.J. Drenth says
Thanks for your comment and for following our work over the years. There’s been at least some empirical / correlational work done with these two frameworks. Just do a Google Scholar search and you’ll find some of it. Unfortunately, much of the Myers-Briggs data is harder to access unless you subscribe to their Journal of Psychological Type. Type 5 is overwhelmingly prevalent among INTPs, but also plenty of INTJs. Type 4 is comprised mostly of INF types, along with some ENFs and ISFPs.
christine elizabeth morgan says
Hello, I really enjoy your posts!! I have been a student of the Enneagram for many years and was first introduced to it by my then spiritual director. Over the years, with study and my own experience and repeated confirmed tests, I am a 5 with a heavy four wing and an INFP, which doesn’t seem to match a lot of your conclusions. I have to admit that I am a reluctant INFP and have taken various tests, including your own, many times to confirm (or not!) this assessment. For a long time, earlier in my life, I marginally tested as an INTJ, but have since realized that this tendency is more a work persona. I found your course on INFPs (NPs) very helpful. I often felt misunderstood, particularly at work, and what stands out from your course is that INFPs can look like Ts (TJs?). The lights went on! I often felt much more emotion beneath the surface than was given credit for. And cannot work in an environment I don’t feel has integrity or purpose. I am an instructor at a university, but I am also an artist. I know I have test as turbulent.
Anyway, I would be interested in your thoughts on this, if you have any; otherwise, just wanted to let you know there are other iterations of these very interesting personality systems.
A.J. Drenth says
Greetings Christine and thanks for your comment. I agree with you that strong identification with a work persona may cause INFPs to mistype as INTJs (happens all the time!). It’s nice to hear that our course helped you see that. The relationship between T and F with respect to Enneagram types 4 and 5 is complicated by the inferior function for both INTPs and INFPs. Namely, there can be a tendency for either type to over-identify with their inferior (Fe for INTPs, Te for INFPs), thereby leading to a swapping of Enneagram types. It’s hard to know if this is true in your case, but your comment about mistyping as an INTJ suggests it’s a possibility.
Hmmmmm, I’m an INFP-A and a 4w5…. Maybe I’m assertive because my mom is an ESTJ? I also think my Te is more developed than a lot of INFPs based on what I’ve widely read. Maybe it has to do with how I was raised.
Gert-Jan ten Ham says
Interesting. I am an INTJ and Enneagram 4w5 or 415 tri-type. I am a Turbulent INTJ by the way. According to 16 Personalities 100% Turbulent even. I have tested INTJ on the official MBTI and Keirsey as well (all results showed very clearly INTJ). For quite a while I have thought that I was an INFJ instead, but that was a misunderstanding of my true self. As I have understood from what I have read, this ‘mistake’ was probably due to my Turbulent nature. Now to get to the point: I have heard that Enneagram 4 is not that uncommon among INTJs. Is that true?
A.J. Drenth says
INTJs who self-identify primarily as artists may well test as Fours. I suspect that gender may also play a role. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, INTJs (or INFJs) who identify as artists are often spending the lion’s share of their time in perceiving mode, that is, oscillating between Ni and Se. For INTJs, this can mean a relative disuse of Te and, hence, less alignment with the Enneagram Five.