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Articles > The Enneagram Type 8: The Challenger

The Enneagram Type 8: The Challenger

Type 8s are assertive, adventurous, and competitive risk-takers.

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Enneagram Type 8: The Challenger
Enneagram Type 8: The Challenger

In this article

Overview

In the Enneagram framework, Type 8s — also known as Challengers or simply Eights — are assertive, adventurous, and competitive risk-takers.

Hook and colleagues (2021) describe Type 8s’ core desire as a need to be in opposition. At their worst, Type 8s’ need for independence and self-sufficiency can undermine their ability to cooperate and develop trusting relationships with others.

This negative side emerges as a symptom of Type 8’s core fear of being harmed, controlled, or violated.

Adjectives to describe Type 8s

Others might describe Type 8s as

  • competitive: Inclined or eager to compete with others
  • proud: Possessed of a due sense of what one deserves or is worth.
  • ambitious: Having or showing ambition; having motivations for power, honor, respect, superiority, or other distinction
  • independent: Not subject to bias or influence; self-directing
  • industrious: Hard-working and persistent
  • articulate: Speaking in a clear and effective manner
  • firm: Steadfast; insistent upon something, not accepting dissent
  • persistent: Obstinately refusing to give up or let go
  • bold: Courageous, daring
  • dignified: Having an attitude or bearing that connotes respectability and poise
  • adventurous: Inclined to adventure; willing to take risks; prone to embark on hazardous enterprises; daring

The wordcloud below shows the top 100 words used to describe Type 8s. Bigger words describe the more prominent aspects of most Type 8s.

Words to describe the Enneagram Type 8
Words that describe the Enneagram Type 8

Type 8 Wings

Enneagram Type 8 with a 7 wing or 8w7
Enneagram Type 8 with a 7 Wing (8w7): The Entrepreneur

Type 8s with a 7 wing, or 8w7s, take on some characteristics of Type 7: The Enthusiast, including Type 7’s friendlier social enthusiasm and optimism. Type 8w7s are proficient in persuasion and capable of rallying others to join them in their next big adventure.

Enneagram Type 8 with a 9 wing or 8w9
Enneagram Type 8 with a 9 Wing (8w9): The Negotiator

Type 8s with a 9 wing, or 8w9s, exhibit characteristics of Type 9: The Peacemaker. Type 8w9s have the social savvy of their Type 8 counterparts. However, Type 8w9s are more likely to use these skills to build consensus and common ground rather than achieve their own ends. Type 8w9s are natural diplomats and can find agreeable solutions in difficult situations.

Type 8 Integration and Disintegration

Enneagram Type 8 in integration and disintegration
Type 8s shift towards Type 2 in integration but towards Type 5 in disintegration

In times of health and security (i.e., integration), Type 8s shift towards Type 2: The Helper. One indication of this shift is greater interpersonal trust and warmth. Healthy 8s let down their defenses and assume positive intent from others.

In times of stress (i.e., disintegration), Type 8s shift towards Type 5: The Investigator. Following this shift, Type 8s retreat to their personal pursuits and push others further away. Disintegrated 8s are more likely to pursue their passions in solitude, gradually alienating themselves.

How rare is the Enneagram Type 8?

Based on their distribution of personality traits, TraitLab estimates that roughly 6% of people would be classified as Type 8s.

Type 8s and the Big Five Personality Traits

In studies of personality structure, researchers often use a trait-based approach to describing the differences between people instead of personality types. The most well-established method is the Big Five, which describes differences along five broad dimensions:

Personality types are far less precise than getting exact Big Five measurements, but knowing your personality type can give you a rough idea of where you fall on each dimension.

In the graph below, each dot is a Type 8, placed by where they fall on the Big Five dimensions. You can see that Type 8s can vary quite a bit on any single dimension.

Big Five personality traits among Enneagram Type 8s
Big Five personality traits among Enneagram Type 8s

For example, on the Extraversion dimension, Type 8s tend to score much higher than average, so the High and Very High areas are very dark blue. However, there are still a few rare Type 8s in the middle of the Extraversion spectrum.

Below, you can see more detail on how Type 8s score on each Big Five dimension.

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Type 8s can vary widely on Openness to Experience

Type 8s can vary widely on Openness to Experience. In other words, some Type 8s are less open (more conventional or traditional), others are highly open, and most are somewhere in between.

Type 8s and Big Five Openness to Experience
Type 8s and Big Five Openness to Experience

Openness to Experience describes your need for new information, feelings, and experiences.

Highly open people have diverse interests, and they may feel a constant need to learn and try new things.

Less open people prefer familiar ways of doing things. They are less interested in trying new things or seeking out new experiences. They also tend to be less eccentric and have more conventional tastes in hobbies, music, and reading material.

Type 8s are often slightly higher on Conscientiousness

Type 8s typically score higher on Conscientiousness, with more Type 8s falling at the higher end of the scale.

Type 8s and Big Five Conscientiousness
Type 8s and Big Five Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness describes our planning, organization, and regularity. Highly conscientious people, like most Type 8s, tend to create detailed plans to accomplish their goals and stick closely to them. They are less likely to be distracted by diversions or smaller short-term goals, and they excel at maintaining focus on the big picture.

Many Type 8s will have regular schedules and routines to ensure that they can efficiently make progress on multiple goals. They will have little tolerance for disorganization and chaos, and they will work diligently to create order out of a messy situation.

Type 8s are very high on Extraversion

Type 8s stand out from other types by their unusally high Extraversion.

Type 8s and Big Five Extraversion
Type 8s and Big Five Extraversion

Like many Type 8s, highly extraverted people tend to be more socially outgoing and talkative, and they often seek out more stimulating environments (think loud, crowded, or risky and exciting situations). High extraverts also feel and express positive emotions (e.g., joy, laughter, excitement) more intensely and more frequently.

Highly introverted people are more socially reserved and quiet. They have a lower tolerance for highly stimulating environments and often retreat to calm and quiet situations in solitude. They also experience positive emotions less intensely and less frequently. For example, others may notice that introverts tend to smile and laugh less often than most.

Type 8s are typically lower on Agreeableness

Type 8s often score slightly lower on Agreeableness and can be more demanding than most.

Type 8s and Big Five Agreeableness
Type 8s and Big Five Agreeableness

Agreeableness describes your interpersonal warmth, politeness, and empathy.

Like many Type 8s, less agreeable (or more demanding) people are often less concerned with others when pursuing their own goals. They are more willing to create conflict or express disagreement across most situations and feel less discomfort during interpersonal disputes.

Highly agreeable people feel a deep need to maintain warm, friendly relationships and are naturally more hesitant to impose their will on others. They will be more considerate of how their actions impact others and try to reduce or resolve interpersonal conflicts when they arise.

Type 8s are often lower on Neuroticism

While Type 8s also vary in their level of Neuroticism, most Type 8s fall on the lower, more emotionally stable end of the Neuroticism spectrum

Type 8s and Big Five Neuroticism
Type 8s and Big Five Neuroticism

Neuroticism describes how we react to stress and our tendency to experience a variety of negative emotions. As most Type 8s are less neurotic or emotionally stable, they tend to have steadier, more predictable moods, and can more easily adapt to life’s sudden changes and disruptions.

Less neurotic people, like most Type 8s, generally experience less anxiety, anger, frustration, and sadness. They still experience these negative emotions, but less frequently and with less intensity than their more neurotic counterparts. Likewise, they tend to ruminate less on bad experiences and are less likely to doubt and second-guess themselves, resulting in a calmer, more confident style of thinking through problems and decision-making.

References

  • Hook, J. N., Hall, T. W., Davis, D. E., Van Tongeren, D. R., & Conner, M. (2021). The Enneagram: A systematic review of the literature and directions for future research. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 77(4), 865-883.
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