Enneagram Type 5: Description and Characteristics
An Enneagram personality type describes how individuals interpret the world around them, manage their emotions and respond to situations.
Under the Enneagram system, there are nine personality types:
Type 1: The Perfectionist – Ones follow the rules and do everything correctly. They fear not being perfect and are therefore strict with themselves
Type 2: The Giver – Twos desire to be liked and fear being unloved. They go out of their way to find ways to help people
Type 3: The Achiever – Three's goal is to become successful and admired. They are very concerned with their public image and fear not being valued.
Type 4: The Individualist – Fours fear that they are flawed and unlovable. They are motivated by being true to themselves and their emotions
Type 5: The Investigator – Fives value knowledge and understanding. Their fear is being overwhelmed by their or other's needs
Type 6: The Skeptic – Sixes desire precaution, safety and security. Their fear is being unprepared or unable to defend themselves
Type 7: The Enthusiast – Sevens want to have as much fun as possible and fear extreme emotions such as sadness or loneliness
Type 8: The Challenger – Eights are strong, powerful, and stand up for what they believe in. They fear being powerless, so they are controlling by nature
Type 9: The Peacemaker – Nines usually go with the flow and fear that they will push people away if they prioritize their own needs
These personality types are further categorized as heart, head or body types.
The heart types are types 2, 3 and 4. These people depend on emotional intelligence to understand themselves and connect with others
Head types are types 5, 6 and 7 – They use intellectual intelligence to understand and connect with the world around them
Body types are types 8, 9 and 1 – They focus more on intuition or gut feelings
According to the nine-pointed diagram, each personality relates to the other.
Say, for example, you are Type 7.
As you grow, learn and develop, you could become either Type 6 or Type 8. These are referred to as wing personalities.
The personality types can also be connected in a triangle.
The theory is that Type 6 (for example) is your childhood or old personality. As you grow up and experience the world, you move to Type 6, then Type 3 or vice versa.
A specific core belief defines each personality type. This belief influences your fears, motivations and perspectives.
Understanding these elements helps us see how we react to situations.
This, in turn, enables us to identify areas where we can grow and develop – both personally and professionally.
It also allows us to understand others and how they see the world.
When applied to the workplace, understanding everyone's Enneagram personality types will allow for:
- A more cohesive and understanding workplace
- Better distribution of tasks
- More valuable career planning
- More specific feedback and development plans
The Type 5 personality is The Observer or The Investigator.
They have the desire to need and understand the world around them, as such information and objectivity are important to them.
Type 5 fears are being useless, incapable or helpless.
Their ability to detach from others and emotional pressure creates a sense of freedom but can also lead to loneliness and isolation.
It is thought that only 10% of the world are Enneagram Type 5.
Key personality traits include:
Lost in thought or absentmindedness – As knowledge is a key motivator, Observers are deep in thought, trying to understand something. This can also make them seem absentminded as they are not always present.
Extremely guarded – Type 5s are the most introverted and guarded of all the Enneagram personality types. This means they have hard-to-break walls and don't connect to others easily.
Knowledgeable – Nothing is more important than knowledge, and Type 5 personalities will be extremely knowledgeable about the subjects most interest them.
Insightful – A Type 5 will always give well thought out answers and will rarely act on emotion.
Thinks before speaking – Before saying anything, a Type 5 personality will think long and hard about what they will say.
Sets clear boundaries – They have clear distinctions between friends, family, and work and don't like it when any overlap.
Withdrawn – Because they are guarded and often lost in thought, Type 5s can often appear withdrawn. Their ability to emotionally detach from the world further adds to this.
Independent – As introverts, Type 5s are highly independent people. Their priorities are discovering something new and having the alone time to reconnect with themselves. As such, they have very little time for other people.
Arrogant – As they are so knowledgeable, they often come across as arrogant and rude.
They are motivated by:
- New information and discoveries
- Feeling appreciated and valued
- Alone time
- Learning a new skill
They are often stressed by:
- Large groups of unknown people
- Emotional situations
- Expressions of emotions
- Having to meet other people's needs and standards
- Lack of peace
Healthy Type 5s are pioneers in their field, such as Bill Gates, and are considered integral to the development of society.
They have a talent for simplifying complicated topics and seeing complex issues with clarity
Average Type 5s have several pet projects but prefer to remain away from the public and are usually emotionally and socially detached.
To escape from the mundane rhythm of life, Type 5s often immerse themselves in books and various types of games
Unhealthy Type 5s often lose sense of reality and develop tunnel vision. They lack emotional awareness and sometimes develop radical views. Consumed by these views, unhealthy Enneagram Type 5s may lose friends.
This baffles them because they don't understand why people won't accept their intellectual superiority. All this leaves them feeling more isolated and bitter.
Famous Type 5s include Bill Gates, Emily Dickinson, Stephen Hawking, Jane Austen, Tim Burton and Albert Einstein.
In the workplace, Type 5s are motivated by:
- Having enough space to work alone
- Recognition from managers and bosses
- Attention from their colleagues, especially when talking about their specialist areas
- Their findings and suggestions are followed without feedback or instruction
They are unmotivated by:
- A lack of space or privacy
- Bosses or managers that don't pay attention
- Being overwhelmed by office gossip or their colleague's problems
- Needed or receiving additional support and instruction
The Investigator/Observer has many strengths and weaknesses. But their main strengths are:
Many Type 5s are inventors. As such, they are renowned for being able to find solutions for problems that may confound society.
Like the great inventors, they can also create solutions to problems society didn't know they had.
This often leads to improved software efficiency, scheduling, payroll, and any other day-to-day business functions in the workplace.
Enneagram Type 5s have excellent attention to detail and notice all the small details.
As workers, this allows them to see important information when working through lots of data.
The Investigator is always learning whether to deepen their understanding of a topic or learn something new.
It also opens them up to feedback and self-development.
If they are given data on areas to improve, Type 5s can take that away and work on their development independently.
As they are factual people who love problem-solving, Type 5s can remain calm in times of crisis.
They see the issue, and they immediately think of solutions.
In a working environment, this makes them ideal candidates for leaders in fire drills/emergencies.
Investigators are known for solely concentrating on one topic or task at a time. This allows them to extract as much information as possible from the situation.
While not so great for customer service roles, this trait is great for researchers, engineers and programmers.
It also makes them an excellent resource for the rest of the workplace.
There are negatives and weaknesses to all personality traits. For the Enneagram Type 5, these are:
Enneagram test Type 5 personalities can emotionally withdraw themselves, making it difficult to empathize with others.
In leadership roles, this can cause problems as they won't understand why someone might be upset or stressed out.
It may also cause them to say delicate things bluntly, causing further upset.
Those with a lack of emotion and a considerable amount of knowledge tend to be considered patronizing, condescending and arrogant.
They don't often mean it, but the way they explain or correct something isn't always tactful.
This can cause conflict between colleagues, as some may try to avoid talking to them.
This isolation can come from several places.
The first is through their own emotional detachment.
The second is how they sometimes speak to people.
The third is that Type 5s typically do not like sharing time and resources with others unless they receive validation.
This creates tension in the workplace and can make The Investigator appear cold.
They also have rigid boundaries meaning that they are not seen to be adaptable.
Learning from other people, or even letting a colleague lead the conversation, is a great learning experience for Type 5s.
Accepting feelings and emotions for a Type 5 is hard because they are so fact-focused.
Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling, why they are feeling that way, and what can be done to change/improve those feelings.
Type 5s may consider themselves intellectually superior. Highlighting the achievements and talents of their colleagues will encourage them to appreciate the people they work with.
Understanding how and when Type 5s withdraw will allow them to consider their actions in the future.
It may not stop them from fully withdrawing, but it will at least force them to acknowledge their actions.
Type 5s find it difficult to switch off or relax.
Encouraging hobbies such as yoga or running will give The Investigator time the space to stop thinking and have a mental break.
Type 5s love being self-sufficient and will not ask for help if they are feeling overwhelmed.
Reinforce the belief that asking for help is not a weakness and that their colleagues would be more than happy to help.
For a Type 5, this would like:
- Saying yes more
- Attending networking events
- Attending work social events
- Asking for help
While Type 5s appreciate the facts behind feedback, they sometimes struggle to accept it – especially when coming from someone less knowledgeable.
Working on accepting other people's feedback or opinions is a great growth strategy. It will also allow them to understand emotions and form deeper relationships.
Like the Enneagram Type 6, Type 5 makes up approximately 10% of the population. The difference with Type 5 is that it is much more common among men than it is among women. 14% of men fit this personality type in comparison to just 7% of women.
Type 5 is known as ‘the investigator’. They are intense, cerebral and can be quite cold when it comes to matters of business.
Type 5’s like to be fully knowledgeable of their environment; they prioritize being competent and do not like feeling they are incapable of dealing with a situation.
The Enneagram Type 5 certainly leans towards INTP on the MBTI personality spectrum. However, in relationships, Enneagram 5s can have an emotional understanding similar to that of INTJ. Because of Type 5’s inclination towards logical thinking, they are introverted and can fall into any of the introverted categories of MBTI.
Type 8 is the rarest Enneagram type. They only make up around 6.3% of the total population and it is more common among men to hold this personality type.
Type 8 is known as ‘the challenger'. They are domineering and have a degree of self-confidence not displayed by the other enneagram types.
Type 5s are the kind of people who might once have preferred to live a solitary life halfway up a mountain or in the middle of the countryside.
Since that is not a feasible option in today's society, the challenge for Enneagram Type 5s and anyone they work with is to:
- Help them realize their potential
- Encourage them to feel and explain their emotions
- Bring them back to the real world when they start to withdraw