The concept of the Enneagram Tritype has recently caught my attention as another great way of explaining subtle but surprising differences among individuals of the same type, and also a wonderful way of expanding and diversifying the description of personality. This idea originally belonged to Oscar Ichazo, and was afterwards studied and further developed by Katherine and David Fauvre.
What is the tritype?
Theory says that we do not make use of only one single Enneagram type, but of actually three of them – one in each triad: the Heart Triad (2,3,4), the Head Triad (5,6,7) and the Gut Triad (8,9,1). This means we have a preferred coping strategy in each Centre and our personality is thus tridimensional to an extent.
While we basically use our main type (and main Centre) the most, we will occasionally employ different strategies and coping methods belonging to the other two types (and Centres) in our tritype. The order in which we engage these and their prevalence in our thoughts and behavior will decide the order in which they appear in the tritype.
For example if someone's main type is 7 (in the Head triad), but they also identify quite a lot with a 2 (from the Heart centre) and sometimes with a 9 (in the Gut triad), then their tritype will probably be 7-2-9. However, remember that in the tritype you can't have two types belonging to the same triad (you cannot be a 5-6-8 or a 2-5-3).
How can I determine my tritype?
In order to proceed with determining your tritype, you have to first be very sure about what your basic type is, and which instinctual variant is dominant in your case (knowing your instinctual stacking would be best). Only after these two aspects of your personality are very clear to you, you can move on to assess and discover your tritype. Otherwise it would be pointless - tritype cannot be established if we don't know our main type, and if we take a guess, it won't do us much good or help us in many ways.
Tritype can be achieved through self-observation and sometimes through testing (although the first method is more reliable). It's practically the same way you did with your basic type.
Think about which type you tend to identify with more in the Heart Centre, then in the Thinking Centre and finally the Gut Centre – observe yourself for a longer period of time and don't be in a hurry. Read as much as you can about each type so you are clear about what makes them different. Try to get it right and be certain when you choose. Also notice to what extent these three types can be found in your personality and order them according to that (from the most prevalent - the basic type, to the least manifest - the third).
It often happens that we make sensibly less use of one of the Centres and deciding on our preferred type in that particular Triad can be quite challenging: all three types seem so foreign to us or at least so undifferentiated that we can't make a proper assessment. Time can be a good ally in finally deciding, so give yourself plenty of it.
Sometimes, because personality is very dynamic and continuously changing, it is possible that the last two types in the tritype could change or fluctuate in intensity over long periods of time. This is more likely to happen with the third one, which is less often employed. But it is just as possible that they will become more pronounced and better defined, shedding more light on an initially ambiguous typing.
You can also use Enneagram tests to help you figure out or confirm your tritype – a simple free test that shows you the scores for all 9 types is good enough. You can easily see which type in each triad has a higher score. You can also estimate what is the order in which you use each Centre, by adding the scores of the belonging types and comparing the sums.
There is as well a special test that will determine your tritype. It costs 10$ and I think it is well worth the try: The Enneacards Test.
How is the tritype helpful?
The tritype is very helpful when it comes to explaining differences between people belonging to the same Enneagram type: it broadens our understanding of the Enneastyle archetypes and it reduces stereotyping. It helps us understand more about our personality and that of others and it allows for finer distinctions within each type.
For example, a friendlier, more personable 5-2-9 will be notceably different from a rather temperamental 5-8-4 and they both will be quite different from a more rigid and practical 5-1-3. They are all still basically 5s, but it's the little things that set them all a bit apart. The same stands true for the rest of the types as well.
Each person is not only differentiated by their main type (9 possibilities), their wing (9x2=18 possibilities), their dominant instinctual variant (18x3=54), the stacking of the instinctual variants (54x2=108), but also their preferred types in each Centre – the tritype (108x18=1,944 possibilities).
1,944 different kinds of people – this is hardly stereotyping.
In a future article, I will also try to briefly describe each tritype in light of the particular flavour it gives to the main type.
Tritypes for type One
Tritypes for type Five