Life potentials Enneagram Number 5 - Personality Type Five: Investigator

Investigators are thinkers who prefer to withdraw in their own world and simply observe, rather than take part in human drama.

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Enneagram five

Personality Type: Five – The Investigator, Observer or Thinker

Enneagram is a model of human psychology that describes nine fundamental personality types. Here is the basic characteristics of the “Five”.

Dominant Traits

  • Analytical
  • Thoughtful
  • Unobtrusive
  • Detached
  • Seeks Privacy
  • Self-Sufficient 

Focus of Attention

  • Gaining Knowledge and Wisdom
  • Protects Themselves from a World That Asks Too Much 

Basic Fear: Being Incompetent and Helpless 

Basic Desire: Understanding, Mastery 


  • Self-Assured
  • Independent
  • Observant
  • Uncomplicated
  • Objective
  • Calm in a Crisis 


  • Indifferent
  • Withdraws from Others
  • Can be Intellectually Arrogant
  • Can be Eccentric
  • Fears Intrusion 

General Behavior of the Thinker

The Investigator or Fives, are thinkers who prefer to withdraw in their own world and simply observe, rather than take part in human drama. They are usually well-read, intelligent, thoughtful, and become experts at their area of interest. This is due to Five’s desire to master whatever they spend time on, which stems from their fear of not having enough internal resources to cope with the world. 

What is important to understand about Fives is that they are not insecure about their capabilities. What they fear they lack are the inner resources necessary, such as time and energy, to cope with life. They tend to hoard these resources, and protect them fiercely. This is the reason for their detachment. They don’t want to be imposed upon. In order to protect themselves from an intrusive world, and from insufficient resources, Fives take refuge inside their minds. They detach from feelings and rejects claims to their time, energy and emotions. They reduce their needs and focus on pursuing self-sufficiency. 

The challenge of Fives is their inability to open themselves up to anything that can threaten their peaceful world, even their own emotions. They are not comfortable in dealing with the demands of a relationship or competing for their place in the world. They’d rather ponder, and study, and get involved only in things that they’ve mastered. This personality does not like putting themselves in a position of vulnerability. They are non-intrusive and very independent. 

Because of their desire to hide their perceived weaknesses, they do not ask for help, even if people are happy to assist them if they needed assistance. 

Feeling helpless is Five’s worst fear. They are so sensitive that they are not “enough” to meet the demands of the world, so they prefer to withdraw and act indifferent. This aloofness creates distance between themselves and people, a distance which is hard to bridge. 

However, when they do manage to connect with people, when they realize that they are not threats, they can be loyal and devoted friends. 

Fives usually have few friends, but they last for a lifetime. 

How to Get Along with a Five

  • Respect their need for privacy, and don’t take it personally. You are not being rejected.
  • Give them space. Fives hates to be obligated and pressured.
  • Avoid being intrusive and being too curious about them.
  • Allow them to share their feelings. Give them space to speak freely, and with no pressure.
  • Don’t make demands on their time and energy.
  • Don’t rush them into doing things.
  • Talk to them about ideas, and the values of having an inner life. 

How to Overcome the Negative Effects of Being a Five

  • By establishing boundaries, you can still connect with people without having them intrude on your privacy.
  • Remember that having a rich and well-balanced life requires us to embrace the human experience. All of it.
  • Try engaging with others. It can expand your available inner resources.
  • Keeping yourself inside your head restricts your vitality, contrary to what you think.
  • Try to get in touch with your emotions, and let others in once in a while.
  • Be with people, share yourself with them every now and then. Energy is symbiotic. You expand your own life force when you connect with other’s energy. 

read abou the other Enneagram personality types here: 

The One, the Two, the Three, the Four, the Six, the Seven, the Eight, the Nine.

Criticism of the Enneagram model

The Enneagram model of personality has been criticized as being subject to interpretation and difficult to test or validate scientifically. You can read about The Big Five model of personality that has gained more scientific consensus here.


  1. Type Five, The Observer
  2. Wikipedia – The Enneagram of Personality
  3. International Enneagram Association – Enneagram Systems and Types

Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are

Do you know your own personality? Read more about different dimensions of personality in the book "Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are" by Shawn Achor, founder of the Institute of Positive Research and GoodThinkInc.

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