Were you the type of kid that wanted to spend more time with your chemistry set than on the playground? Or maybe you were known for driving your parents bonkers by always asking “why”?
If that sounds like you, then you might be an Enneagram 5! Enneagram Type 5s are known as investigators, and they’re generally insightful, curious, visionary people
We know Fives are super curious people, which is why we’ve put together this article explaining everything you need to know about this Enneagram type. We’ll explain:
- How to tell if you’re an Enneagram 5 (there’s a quiz involved!)
- The top five things you should know about being an Enneagram 5
- What Enneagram Type 5 relationships are like
- The best Enneagram Type 5 careers
- The Enneagram Type 5 wings
Let’s start our investigation!
The Enneagram Type 5 Personality
Fives are driven by a need to know the “why” behind everything. They rely on their own ability to see and examine the world around them, and they rarely accept explanations just because someone said so. They’re also infamous for pushing back on the status quo. You’ll have to prove to a Five that your way of doing things is the best way if you want them to fall into line.
Living like this takes a lot of mental processing power, which means—you guessed it!—Enneagram Type 5s tend to be super smart. And because they’re always questioning the things around them, they’re also hyper observant. This lets them see problems from all angles and come up with innovative solutions. For that reason, many Fives tend to be labeled as “pioneers” or “visionaries.” But from a Five’s perspective, they’re just having fun solving problems no one has been able to solve before.
It might seem like Fives are basically scientists, and you’re right: fives tend to gravitate toward STEM or other technical fields. But that doesn’t mean Fives can’t be creative types, too! At their core, all Enneagram 5s are experimenters and boundary pushers. They want to see what’s possible, which is what motivates artists, writers, and designers, too.
But there are some downsides to being a Five, too. When Fives are stressed, they tend to become hyper and scattered. (Think: the Nutty Professor.) As a result, Enneagram Type 5s tend to be diagnosed with ADHD more often than other Enneagram types. Fives can also end up isolated, too. Fives rely on their brains to make sense of the world, which means they’re often scared of emotions. Their lack of emotional awareness can push more intuitive people—like Twos and Nines—away. At their worst, Fives can experience psychotic breaks with reality or conclude that life is totally meaningless.
Because Type 5s are visionaries, famous Fives tend to work in fields that let them explore new things every day. Stephen Hawking, Emily Dickinson, Ursula K LeGuin, Curt Cobain, Alfred Hitchcock, and Albert Einstein are all Enneagram Type Fives, too!
Quiz: Are You an Enneagram Type 5?
Now that you’ve gotten an overview of what it means to be a Five, you might be curious about whether this is actually your Enneagram type.
Never fear! Our quick, five question quiz will help shine some light on the situation for you. Answer each of the following questions with a “yes” or “no” answer. Try not to overthink them—just go with your first instinct!
- Are you open to new ideas, even when it’s something you’ve never considered before?
- Do you love learning about new things?
- Would your friends and family describe you as a “thinker” rather than a “feeler”?
- Do you often lose or misplace things because you’re too busy thinking about other things?
- Are you more comfortable making decisions based on research and data rather than relying on your gut instinct?
If you answered “yes” to three or more of the above questions, then there’s a good chance that you’re an Enneagram Type 5!
While Fives are best known for their problem solving abilities, there's actually a lot more to them than that! Keep reading for the five things you need to know about Enneagram Type 5s.
Top 5 Things to Know About Enneagram Type 5s
Now that you’ve gotten to know the general traits of an Enneagram 5, let’s take a closer look at the core characteristics that make Fives unique amongst the nine Enneagram types.
Getting a handle on these traits can help you understand yourself better. If you’re friends, family, or in a relationship with a Five, this section will give you some additional insight into what makes your loved one tick.
Here are the five things you need to know about being an Enneagram Type 5.
#1: They Value Knowledge Above Feelings
Enneagram Type 5s are known as Investigators for a reason: they rely on their intelligence to help them make sense of the world. They’re driven by a need to understand...well, everything. Fives love to get to the bottom of a question, but they do it systematically rather than by intuition. By peeling back the layers of a concept step by step, Fives hope to reveal the truth of the world around them.
In other words, Fives collect bits of information and knowledge the way some people collect baseball cards. It’s also one of the reasons you want Type 5s on your trivia or quiz bowl team!
There is a downside to Enneagram Type 5’s obsession with information, and that’s emotional isolation. Because this Type values facts and truth, they tend to be uncomfortable with emotions...both their own and other people’s. As a result, Fives can come across as emotionally stunted and accidentally offend or ostracize the people around them. To combat this, Fives need to spend some of their brain power on developing their emotional intelligence, and Fives should surround themselves with people who can help them become more in tune with their feelings.
#2: They Challenge the Status Quo
Fives aren’t interested in doing things the same way they’ve always been done. They question everything. They’re never content to continue on the same traditional pathway unless people they respect—in combination with their own observations—prove to them that it’s worthwhile.
Fives get labeled as rebels, especially since they’re unafraid of pushing back against authority figures. Type 5s understand that you sometimes have to break a system in order to make it into something better! As long as they’re confident in their data and research, Type 5s will boldly challenge existing systems.
Fives want to be known as an "expert," so they're always looking to deepen their knowledge.
#3: They’re on a Quest for Expertise
Despite their capabilities, Type 5s can sometimes suffer from imposter syndrome. They realize how much they don’t know, which can make them feel insignificant and incapable. Fives have a solution to this problem, though, and that’s cultivating expertise.
By becoming an expert in one or two areas, Fives feel like they understand at least a few things in the world. This gives them a much-needed sense of control. So don’t be surprised when you find a Five putting all their energy into developing a very specific skill set! Sometimes this looks like doing high-level research at a university or company, but oftentimes Fives’ expertise is much more narrow and eccentric. Maybe they can name every movie that’s won an Academy Award for Best Picture, or perhaps they’re expert lock pickers!
The need for expertise feeds into another need Fives have: they want to be self-sufficient. Fives are fiercely independent, and they’ll go to extreme lengths to protect their autonomy. They want to be able to do things for themselves, and they’re unwilling (and in some cases, unable) to ask others for help. Consequently, Enneagram Type 5s tend to minimize their needs, which can push them even further away from the people who care about them.
#4: They Love a Problem
Fives aren’t just curious people. They’re also problem solvers. Fives aren’t content to just ask questions about something—they’re notorious for getting their hands dirty, too. If there’s an issue that interests them, they can become obsessive about it until they’ve come up with an outside-of-the-box solution. (Fives will even teach themselves whole new skill sets if it helps them on their quest!)
This single-mindedness helps Fives stay hyper-focused, but not to the point where they ignore other ideas. Fives are open to new concepts and ways of seeing things (even if they force you to prove why they should consider your position). Sometimes Type 5s can come across as argumentative or aggressive, but what Fives are really doing is testing ideas to make sure they’re solid.
And that’s why Fives gravitate toward fields that allow for invention and innovation: they love experimenting in order to crack even the toughest mysteries.
#5: Their Brains Are a Blessing and a Curse
Here’s the deal: Enneagram 5s tend to be really smart. Like, they are serious brainiacs. Their intelligence is what puts them at the forefront of fields like technology, medicine, art, and science. They’re happiest when they’re venturing into unknown territory, whether that’s experimenting with new genres of writing or literally going into space. Fives bring that pioneering energy to everything they do.
But unhealthy Fives often struggle with mental issues. Enneagram Type 5s can be predisposed to mental health challenges like dissociation, where they begin to feel disconnected from the reality around them. Additionally, Fives can be vulnerable to conspiracy theories and phobias if they’ve gone down the wrong rabbit holes without verifying the information they’re reading. At worst, Fives can become paranoid, which can lead to a psychotic break.
But don’t worry: Fives aren’t doomed to have mental health problems! They just tend to be slightly more predisposed to them. If Fives are proactive about their mental health, maintain emotionally healthy relationships, and surround themselves with people who keep them grounded, Enneagram Type Fives can live happy, healthy, productive lives.
Enneagram Type 5 Relationships
Enneagram Type 5 relationships can be categorized by two things: curiosity and adventure. The best partners for Enneagram 5s will love learning and information as much as they do, and they’ll be willing to put the quest for knowledge at the center of their relationship. That means doing everything from traveling the world and exploring museums to having a shop in the garage where Fives can tinker with their inventions. Fives will open their partners’ eyes to the world around them as long as their partners share their love of curiosity and imagination!
Having said that, Enneagram Type 5 relationships can be really tricky. First off, Fives crave space. They want to feel like they have the freedom to make their own decisions, which can sometimes make their partners feel like they’re disconnected or distant from one another. Additionally, Type 5s can be quirky and eccentric, which can make living with them tough sometimes. For instance, 5s may forget to pay the bills or feed the dog if they’re working on a particularly complex problem. And while that’s not always a problem, it can make a Five’s partner feel like they’re putting in all of the work.
In order for Fives to have healthy relationships, they need to focus on making themselves emotionally available so they can support their loved ones. While this might feel unnatural at first, even Fives need emotional connection with other people! Additionally, strong boundaries and a sense of mutual respect can help Fives feel secure enough to open up to others, especially when their quirkiness is met with love and acceptance.
Fives love to dig into tough topics, so Fives tend to excel in research-based fields.
Best Enneagram Type 5 Careers
At this point, it might seem obvious...but the best Enneagram Type 5 careers are in fields that are innovative and forward-thinking. That means most Fives find themselves in STEM or design-related fields where they can explore new horizons.
For example, type Fives are extremely well suited for engineering jobs. Engineering allows Fives to solve problems (which they love!) while developing new tools to tackle the challenge. The skills Fives learn as engineers also give them the knowledge they need to tinker on their own creations, whether that’s an obstacle course for squirrels or something more practical, like developing a rocket-propelled golf club.
Because Fives love an intellectual challenge, they’re also well suited for high-level research in pretty much any field. Fives enjoy the challenges of graduate school, and they love the focus and determination it takes to explore one narrow problem to add to humanity’s larger body of knowledge. These types of Fives also end up in research and development positions. That can entail creating new methods of Artificial Intelligence all the way to researching more eco-friendly building materials.
But remember what we said about Fives being equally successful in more artistic realms? That’s still true! Fives are looking for careers where they can push the envelope. Many Fives become artists, writers, and even entrepreneurs. As long as a Five is feeling intellectually challenged, they’ll enjoy their career.
Enneagram wings are a way for you to get even more insight into your personality. Keep reading to learn about a Five's two wing-types.
Enneagram Type 5 Wings
The Enneagram uses a concept called “wings” to help explain aspects of your personality that might not exactly fit with your dominant type. It turns out that you’re most likely to share personality traits with one of your adjacent types.
For Enneagram Type 5 people, their potential wings are Enneagram Type 4 and Enneagram Type 6. These are often shortened to 5w4 (“Enneagram 5 wing 4”) or 5w6 (“Enneagram 5 wing 6”).
We’ll explain the two different wing types below.
Enneagram Type 5 Wing 4
Enneagram Type 5 Wing 4 people are Fives that tend to exhibit some of the personality types of Fours. This combination is known as “The Iconoclast.” An iconoclast is a person who tears down institutions, and Fives are excellent at challenging the status quo so new (and better!) systems can take their place.
Five wing Fours are more aware of the larger context that surrounds a problem. For instance, while they may be interested in creating carbon sinks to fix climate change, a 5w4 also realizes that the U.S. political system is also a huge part of the issue. To deal with that, a 5w4 may become politically active in organizations that seek to challenge the government’s current position on climate, or even run for office to try and remake the political system from the inside.
Because 5w4s aren’t afraid to break systems down if they’re not working, they tend to be labeled as rebels or anti-authoritarian. But in actuality, Five wing Fours are so committed to fixing some of the biggest issues facing humanity that they’re willing to take bold and decisive action.
Enneagram Type 5 Wing 6
Enneagram 5 wing 6s are Fives that share some characteristics with Sixes. This combination is known as “The Collaborator,” probably because they enjoy bringing different perspectives together.
Enneagram Type Sixes are known as strong team builders, and that’s exactly the skill that 5w6s take advantage of. A Five wing Six realizes that they can only offer one perspective on a situation, and they realize that the best perspectives arise when people from different backgrounds and walks of life come together.
So an Enneagram Type 5 wing 6 looks for opportunities where they can join with others to build their knowledge and explore the world with curiosity. These Fives love to travel with groups, especially on educational excursions. They also enjoy working in creative fields where people aren’t afraid to butt heads over everything from design to execution. Enneagram 5 wing 6s know that intellectual variety is the spice of life, which is why they thrive in environments where they can collaborate with other smart, insightful people.
Thinking about delving even deeper into your personality and the way you interact with the world? Our explanation of different learning styles includes a quiz for you to figure out how you best learn new information.
Enneagram Type 5s tend to be data oriented, which means they’re excellent fits for STEM fields. You can learn more about what STEM is here. (And once you do that, be sure to check out our huge list of STEM careers, too!)
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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.