Thoughts on Statistics

Long have I been fascinated by the statistical dispersion of Enneagram types throughout the population– in fact, it was one of the first (critical) questions I asked when introduced to the system. Of course, there is no definitive answer (yet), but more a feel for which types/traits are more or less common (and why). After some early reading and sifting on this topic through the first couple of years of my Enneagram study, I accepted this loose order (most populous to least populous): 6/3/9, 2, 1/7, 4, 8, 5.

Of course, rather than sate my curiosity, this loose order only propelled it further. So many of the surveys on this topic seem to be skewed by where/how they were conducted. For instance, many of the polls that have been taken via the internet reflect higher numbers of withdrawn and introspective types, because those types are both regular internet lurkers and more prone to introspection. As much as I understand the ease and far-reach of Internet surveying (heck, I do it too!) one can’t expect accurate results in any environment that might attract larger volume of any certain type. Running a survey in a corporate environment has the same problem, as 3’s, 1’s, 8’s and 6’s would be over-represented because they are generally more drawn to such an environment.

So, I began collecting data of my own. Though I didn’t realize it at first, the central environment of my polling is probably one of the most neutral environments that I am currently aware of– my giant mega church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

The place is filled with as many plumbers as musicians, as elementary school teachers, as CEO’s, every socioeconomic group, every cultural background, every age. It seems that God is something that unites all people. ūüėČ The most current information¬†I could find says that my church consists of roughly 50,000 people, and my heavy volunteer involvement over the past six years has built me a pretty good sized network. ¬†Oh, and (get this) my church actually occasionally teaches and utilizes the Enneagram, so most people there are at least aware of what it is. Unique environment indeed.

And so my spreadsheet of the Enneagram types of people I knew, grew. Some important details about this surveying:

  • To date, this spreadsheet has been kept over a span of five years.
  • This process required¬†the following to maintain accuracy:
    • a high level of study from me, as in many cases I met with individuals to talk through their questions about their own typing (many times resulting in their own type conclusions).
    • A level of discernment– knowing when someone had probably mistyped.
    • Humility– knowing that it is never my place to convince anyone of type, if they don’t want to know my opinion.
  • I only have counted people on my spreadsheet who either:
    • have confirmed their type, and can satisfactorily¬†explain why.
    • I know very intimately, enough to be certain of their type– in a few cases of this the person is not aware of or interested in the Enneagram (like my Dad, ha!).
    • I have interacted with socially for over two years.

All of that disclaimed, I would love to share my results!


197 humans (120 female, 77 male)

Loyalist – 35 |¬†Helper – 31 |¬†Reformer –¬†29

Peacemaker – 29¬†|¬†Achiever – 29 |¬†Enthusiast –¬†28

Individualist Р6 | Investigator Р6 | Challenger Р4

When looking at my numbers, one can see the loose aforementioned¬†order at play, and yet the numbers are very close among the more populous types– too close, really, to distinguish an overall order among them. The main large distinction one can draw immediately from my results, though, is that the majority (92% in the case of this survey) of the population is made up of types 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9, leaving the remaining 8% to types 4, 5 and 8. I should also note, that I even¬†specifically tried to seek out the lesser represented types, because when I was doing my Photo Project, I needed accurately typed participants! ¬†If I hadn’t done so, I might have even less naturally represented here.

As always, one could point to ways in which my survey is¬†affected by who I am, and the places I frequent. ¬†I have far closer relationships with women in my life, for example, and one could argue that this is why 2 is represented a bit higher than one would expect. Still, at 39%, the male representation¬†in this survey isn’t too far behind.

Many other interesting tidbits could be gleaned from this survey, through commentary on the individuals in questions– what do they do for a living? What is their birth order? How many of each wing are present? Which types display bias towards one gender, or a pretty equal dispersion of both? ¬†Today, I leave you with the overall numbers, but will be working towards discussing more of the finer detail in the future as my spreadsheet grows! ¬†I’m getting married in May, so hopefully my¬†groom’s influence will help to even out the gender dispersion a bit! ūüėČ

Here’s to Understanding, friends!

Thoughts on Statistics