Could an online test understand me?

Jonas Doerr-

I was discovering my number. Click. Click. Click. was guiding me through it, asking personal question after personal question.

This wasn’t a phone number, although one might still ask for this number at a bar. This was my Enneagram number; a personality archetype somewhere between one and nine that could reveal hidden insights about anyone’s personality.

I was supposed to rate each statement with how strongly I agreed with it. For example, “I think deeply about things.” That’s easy, of course I do. Wait a second, I didn’t think deeply about that, though. But am I thinking deeply about it now? “I am always trying to be a better person.” Would anyone other than Dr. Doofenshmirtz strongly disagree with that?

I wasn’t expecting much once I finished what seemed like 100 questions. I certainly didn’t expect any revelations about my personality. Then lo and behold, at the end of the test, I was presented with a pie chart. With mind-blowingly innovative graphic design, each slice of the pie was sized according to how I had scored on that archetype.

I had a lot of big slices! Should I be proud of my big pie? I read on down the page. I was a three, apparently: “Threes are driven, motivated individuals.” Then the words slowly faded out and were covered by an icon of a lock. “Unlock the full report,” the website said. “Bah, humbug,” I said and closed the tab.

This Enneagram thing couldn’t be that great. Who bases their personality on a number? I googled, “Is the Enneagram pseudoscience?” and found an armory of ammunition. The Enneagram isn’t scientifically reliable, one site said. You’ll get different results every time you take it. Another site pointed out that the Enneagram pigeonholes people into categories, which limits them from exploring everything they could be.

I would not fall for this trap. I would instead enlighten the people of Gustavus with a witty exposé about the dangers of introducing oneself as a number. But first, I had to get an expert’s perspective.

I headed deep into the awfully bright and cheery depths of Anderson to find Professor Bri Miller, teacher of the J-Term course, “Enneagram to Instagram.”

Stepping into her office, I was immediately greeted with a firm handshake and a smile. “You must be an 11,” I thought in awe, “because that’s your energy out of 10.” She quickly clarified that she was a 2, the Helper, which I couldn’t deny; she was helping me at that moment, after all.

I explained I was writing about the Enneagram, and although I was a skeptic, I wanted her perspective on the test. Miller said, “It’s about becoming more self-aware of your filters so that you can have a more holistic approach to your relationships and be self-aware of where you default to. Ultimately, the Enneagram isn’t about your behaviors, it’s about your motivation.” Well, that all sounded good so far.

She continued, “People usually find one that resonates with them pretty well. Out of 17 students, 16 had their type pretty well.” Miller said, “When people read about the Enneagram, they are suddenly going, ‘Someone’s inside of my head?’” But is it useful?

The answer was yes. She went through all the different wellness activities the class went through, including journaling to move out of repetitive thought patterns, how to get out of a stress cycle, and how to make healthy decisions online, basing all of these activities on an understanding of what motivates people who have an Enneagram type like them.

It was clear that people could find a lot of uses for the Enneagram besides just feeling understood, but I had had my doubts. Was the Enneagram scientific? And didn’t it put people in boxes?

The expert had an answer to that, as well. Miller said, “People are complex, so being consistent every time you’re testing something is really hard. It is.” But she went on to say that this kind of personality typing has been around since ancient Egypt, although it’s been developed mostly in the last 75 years. She also mentioned that there is a national and an international organization for the Enneagram, and “a large quantity of people are being interacted with to draw these conclusions.”

Okay, but what about being limited through being defined by a number? Miller said, “Any Enneagram expert would say you can tap into all nine types. That’s truly the goal, being able to move around the types.” The number you are given is simply what you default to when stressed or unaware, but ideally, people could adapt to a situation by tapping into a different type.

The confusion comes on social media, she said, when people say, “You’re a one. You feel this way about a new movie. If you’re a two, you feel this way about a new movie,” and people feel pigeon-holed to act a certain way.

Having all my questions answered, I thanked her and headed out. She had given me her preferred Enneagram test to try, and I was eager to see if this would resonate more than the paywalled Truity test.

I opened up and started its Enneagram test. It seemed similar to the Truity test, but I worked my way through it in about 15 minutes. Type 3, the Achiever, my results said.

The website read, “People of this personality type need to be validated in order to feel worthy; they pursue success and want to be admired. They are frequently hard-working, competitive, and are highly focused in the pursuit of their goals, whether their goal is to be the most successful salesman in the company or the ‘sexiest’ woman in their social circle.”

Finally! Someone understood me! I have always wanted to be the sexiest in my social circle.

If you’re interested in what else it said, you can take the test and look up Type 3. Either way, take my recommendation and Professor Miller’s to take a couple of minutes to see what you can learn from the number you are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *