Instinctual Subtypes

Subtypes of the Enneagram

16 Personalities
Big Five
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The Three Instincts

People all have three instincts that govern them: self-preservation, which governs the need for survival through essentials like food, water, and shelter; the social instinct, which governs the need to be a part of a group or community; and the one-to-one instinct, which governs our intimate relationships with partners, friends, and family.

Although each instinct is present in everyone, there is often one that is more dominant in an individual than the other two. This is known as their “primary subtype”. A person’s dominant instinct affects how they see themselves, form relationships with others, and prioritize different needs. Though instinctual subtypes may look a bit different depending on the main Enneagram types of each person, they tend to exhibit similar characteristics across all personalities.


Prioritizes chemistry and intense connections with other individuals.

One-to-one subtypes are people who value intimacy and excitement in their relationships with people (not just their partners). They tend to be very passionate about things and may be acutely aware of chemistry between themselves and others. They often have an adventurous, open approach to life, seeking experiences that help them build powerful connections with another person.


Prioritizes relationships to establish a sense of community and value.

Social subtypes tend to value their responsibility to their social group. They are likely to commit themselves to a particular culture or group and do what they can to help others in their group. Generally, social subtypes care a great deal about how others see them, since they are likely to lose the safety of the group if people view them negatively. 


Prioritizes personal comfort, safety, and stability.

Self-preservation subtypes concern themselves first and foremost with their own security. They want to make sure they are able to meet their needs, including food, water, shelter, physical comfort, and overall health. They will do what is practical and necessary to make sure they’re stable, healthy, and content at all times.

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