Understanding the Enneagram types using two personality factors

Colorizing the Enneagram by combining two personality factors found in the primary triads and secondary triads makes the types easier to understand.

The Enneagram Symbol

Typically the Enneagram personality types are given labels in an attempt to differentiate the types from one another. One problem with that is each school, author, or teacher may use a different label.

For example, type 1 may be labelled as the Perfectionist, the Moral Perfectionist, the Strict Perfectionist, the Reformer, the Good Person, the Idealist, the Achiever, the Improver, and so on. It just depends on who's interpretation you're reading.

Another problem is that sometimes the same labels are used in reference to two different types.

For instance, type 1 is called the Achiever by one author and type 3 is called the Achiever by another. Type 1 is also said by some to be an Idealist while type 7 is said by others to be an Idealist.

A simple solution to these problems can be found by uniquely differentiating the nine types using just two personality factors.


The nine Enneagram types are often grouped into three groups of three where each group is said to have something in common. These are called triads.

By overlaying two triads, a unique combination can be created for each of the nine types which clearly differentiates each type from the others. Colors can be associated with these triads to make the differences easier to see.

The Primary Triads

The most often used set of triads is commonly called the centers of intelligence, or simply the centers.

Various labels are used to refer to the centers but for the purpose of creating a two factor label for each type we'll be using behavior, emotion, and thought. We'll also be assigning each triad one of three primary colors.

Primary Triads

  • Red (Behavior) Triad: types 8, 9, and 1
  • Blue (Emotion) Triad: types 2, 3, and 4
  • Yellow (Thought) Triad: types 5, 6, and 7

You can click here for more info on the primary triads.

The Secondary Triads

The next most often used triads are derived from Karen Horney's compliant, detached, and aggressive types. These triads are commonly referred to as the stances or the Hornevian groups.

Three secondary colors are produced when the primary colors are combined two at a time.

  • Purple = Red + Blue
  • Green = Blue + Yellow
  • Orange = Yellow + Red

We can assign these secondary colors to the stances and refer to the them as the secondary triads.

Secondary Triads

  • Purple (Compliant) Triad: types 1, 2, and 6
  • Green (Detached) Triad: types 4, 5, and 9
  • Orange (Aggressive) Triad: types 7, 8, and 3

You can click here for more info on the secondary triads.

Two Factor Pairings for Each Type

Looking at the primary and secondary triads, each Enneagram type has a unique two factor combination.

Enneagram Colors

  1. Purple-Red (Compliant-Behavior)
  2. Purple-Blue (Compliant-Emotion)
  3. Orange-Blue (Aggressive-Emotion)
  4. Green-Blue (Detached-Emotion)
  5. Green-Yellow (Detached-Thought)
  6. Purple-Yellow (Compliant-Thought)
  7. Orange-Yellow (Aggressive-Thought)
  8. Orange-Red (Aggressive-Behavior)
  9. Green-Red (Detached-Behavior)

You can take a test to determine your likely type and have its colors explained by clicking here.

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