Enneagram Archetypes vs Stereotypes and our First Impressions

I have been working on my presentation "Archetypes and Stereotypes" for the upcoming IEA conference... as you might imagine, my 8 lust wants to say everything and share 400 slides in just a 2 hour time slot.... and in high speed like a 7...including the meaning and significance like the 4...in an up close and personal manner like the sx.

I posted this in my personal thread by accident...and it is in Enneagram Daily but thought I would share it here. Someone tearily asked if it was a trick question....Haha….no, not a trick question.... but could be of course, you never know with an 874;))

These two women share the same facial archetype and are often mistaken for one another.... Someone’s visual archetype (facial features and body type) are two of 12 key points I look at when evaluating someone's potential instinctual type and tritype (as well as MBTI, body language and core energetic character structure, etc). In other words, what we can see and observe.

Most of us begin with an immediate first impression of someone… As a child, I was curious if others also felt an immediate impression of people and made a quick decision about what a type of person they may be. And, I wondered how consciously and quickly they formed a first impression. Oh and yes, my family and my friends did wonder why I was always examining similarities and differences between people… now they are just used to it… ;)

At the age of 7, in in 1960, I began my study of human nature with the little Dell books that could be found on any subject in the magazine section or checkout counter in most drugstores and grocery stores.

Later, in the 1970s, I learned of research that suggested a first impression is made within the first 20 seconds of seeing someone and rarely, if ever changes. Then, later research suggested 7 seconds and then 2 seconds. Recent studies by Princeton researchers suggest that a first impression is made in 1/10 of a second... I have always found this to be true... and believe it may be even faster. It is similar to Malcolm Gladwell's theory of the “blink” test from his book Blink (the power of thinking without thinking).

I also devoured documentaries that explained the nuances of brain function for idiots… ;)) I was intrigued as to what governed and determined which immediate action needed to take place first to insure survival… I was surprised to learn that the brain makes and acts on assumptions. These assumptions are biological imperatives, as the brain must make snap decisions to increase our odds of survival when faced with eminent danger. So in essence, the short story is that our brain guesses… and/or lies to improve our chances of survival (longer story). Simply put, our brain reacts to stimuli and at first glance, it can’t distinguish between a snake and something that looks like a snake… so it pumps adrenaline, and basically says “danger!” until additional data says the coast is clear… ;) Not a snake but rather a rope in an 'S' shape.

So, it would stand to reason that we as a species would need to make snap judgments as to whether or not someone is familiar to us or a stranger….and, if a stranger, are they a threat to us? Our brain would rapidly sort though images and emotional experiences to determine if someone might be a threat....a fellow tribe member that would feed us or an enemy tribe that would harm us or eat us... ;)).

So, if these two women are so similar in appearance, the question that would naturally arise is “Are they the same Enneagram type?” If we consider stereotypes, our answer (most likely unconsciously) would be yes…. But are they truly the same type? If we look further, perhaps we will confirm they are or we may discover they are not.

I would propose in round numbers that roughly 80% of the time, those with so many visual similarities would share the same type and 20% of the time they would not. And as many of you already know, I do love to explore the 20% that are more atypical… I then, along with other points of consideration, listen for language use and observe micro expressions and body language to have a more complete picture of someone’s potential tritype and instinctual type.

Our snap judgments and resulting assumptions create our first impression (and by extension our view of typing), This was the focus of my IEA presentation in 2013. I will explore, compare and contrast both archetypes and stereotypes and how they influence our opinion of someone’s potential type. So, as fellow enthusiasts, I would love to know your thoughts.

Enneagram Typing by Traits vs Gestalt

I recently answered a question about typing.... Below is my response to the following question:

"Should I give more weight to the number of traits a person has of one type over another? Also, what should I do when that person is tied with 6 traits of one type and 6 of another?"

My answer:
I have found that most of us will see what we are looking for...and what we can identify. The question is, can we see what others see as well... and more importantly, can we remain open to and integrate additional data that may not match our view and/or hypothesis?

I find this to be somewhat difficult for most of us to do as we work from what we know… our own database, our education on the subject and our own personal experiences. This is the data with which we are the most familiar and trust the most.

IMO, this is why, for me, the ‘Gestalt’ of typing becomes more important than the sum of the individual traits. The details are very important of course, especially in the assessment process, but adding and subtracting details can often lead us away from the overall impression and energy present.

I know this is 8 speak and gut type speak versus head type speak, etc… but in the end, I find that when it comes to identifying nuances of type, it helps if we learn everything we can on the types (or any subject for that matter), never stop learning, become educated on the types from diverse perspectives, use multiple methods and assessment tools, and gather real world experiences of the types… Then, after that, I find it is best to go with the ‘Gestalt’ ….for with respect to the nuances of typing, the whole appears to be far greater than the sum of its parts.

©Katherine Chernick Fauvre 1999-2019