Request A Demo
Get Started

PDP Behavioral Assessments vs Enneagram Personality Tests

by Brent W. Hubby, on Nov 15, 2022 1:12:00 PM

Colleagues reviewing files

The Enneagram of personality is a model of human psychology and personality that maps individuals onto one of nine unique personality types. The test has become popular, and companies sometimes use it to provide their employees with self-awareness and insight into personality differences within their teams. 

So is the Enneagram personality test useful for business? 

Not all personality tests or assessments are created equal. While the Enneagram can be a fun way to learn about oneself, it hasn’t been developed as rigorously as other behavioral assessments like PDP Global’s ProScan Survey. 

Here’s how the Enneagram personality test stacks up against the PDP ProScan behavioral assessment in terms of how they were developed, the research behind each test, and their unique applications.


Enneagram Personality Test

The contemporary Enneagram approach to personality originates in the teachings of Oscar Ichazo, a Bolivian philosopher and mystic. The personality theory he developed pulls together influences from several ancient and spiritual traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, and even ancient Greek philosophy. 

Several different tests have been created since he developed his philosophy to map individuals onto the nine personality types. The Riso–Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) is one of the most well-known and popularly used. Another is the Stanford Enneagram Discovery Inventory, which was later renamed the Essential Enneagram test.

PDP Behavioral Assessment

PDP Global’s ProScan behavioral assessment originated from the need for businesses to identify potential talent. We developed ProScan to help companies find and select candidates that possess the traits that would make them successful in a particular job or position. 

From the beginning, the PDP suite of assessments was developed empirically, using techniques to ensure statistical validation and utility for its purpose (rather than from a spiritual or theoretical origin). We based the foundation of our assessments on the work of personality research experts, including Thurstone, Cattell, Guilford, and Fiske. Then we used statistical methods to develop a reliable and valid behavioral assessment. Lastly, we confirmed through rigorous testing that the ProScan could actually predict job performance.

In other words, while the origins of the Enneagram are spiritual, the origins of PDP’s assessments are empirical—based on observations of how people behave and describe themselves. 


Enneagram Personality Test

The result of an Enneagram personality test is a number from 1 to 9 representing a primary personality type. This primary type defines characteristics that describe how you act most of the time. Each type is also associated with two other secondary number types or “wings.” These secondary types describe how you may act when you are stressed or relaxed.

Enneagram personality Model

For example, after taking the test, you might be identified as a One, which is associated with types Four and Seven. Ones are often described as perfectionists who like doing things to a high standard. However, you may act more like a Four (creative and unique) when you’re stressed or like a Seven (lively and fun-loving) when you’re relaxed.

PDP Behavioral Assessment

The PDP ProScan Survey provides the user with their four cornerstone traits (Dominance, Extroversion, Pace/Patience, and Conformity) and Logic, as well as Motivators. It offers these traits in three different dimensions—Natural Self, Priority Environment, and Predictor/Outward Self. Notably, the ProScan does not assume, as Enneagram personality tests do, that all these dimensions will remain stable over time. Instead, it acknowledges that priority traits and motivators shift depending on the circumstances. Adaptation over time is especially useful to recognize when examining behavior in work contexts and personal situations since they regularly evolve.

PDP trait model

The JobScan Survey takes the ProScan results one step further and measures the key traits and energy levels a person needs to be successful in a particular position. JobScan Surveys completed by management, combined with top performer ProScan Surveys, become the ideal job model benchmark.

The ProScan results can also be applied to PDP’s TeamScan, which helps you understand the overarching success drivers of your core teams as well as the culture of the entire organization. Not only is TeamScan valuable in identifying where teams and culture are, but it also aids in mapping change necessitated by market demands or the team’s life cycle.

Each of PDP’s assessments is applicable to work contexts. They provide insight into an individual’s behavioral fit for a given position, the traits that foster success in a particular role, or how to motivate a team to be most effective. 

Research Validation

Enneagram Personality Test

For a behavioral assessment or personality test to work, it has to be reliable and valid. Research and testing are what determine whether the assessment measures what it claims to measure. Generally, Enneagram tests have mixed or limited evidence for their reliability and validity. 

In one study of 1,039 participants that took the Open Enneagram of Personality Scales test, researchers found the instrument demonstrated poor internal consistency and test-retest reliability. In another smaller study of 287 participants that took the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator test, researchers found reliability was adequate for six personality types, but inadequate for the other three. 

A systematic review that included 104 independent samples of participants found mixed results of Enneagram’s validity. It found that factor analysis techniques provided little support for nine separate personality types and limited support for some aspects of the Enneagram theory, such as the secondary personality traits. Reliability and validity estimates were mixed, with some personality types demonstrating better results than others.  

These mixed results are reflected in professional opinions about the Enneagram. A Delphi poll of 101 doctoral-level members of psychological organizations found that at least 25% of respondents rated the Enneagram Personality theory as “discredited.”

PDP Behavioral Assessment

In contrast to the Enneagram, there is a significant body of research that provides evidence for the validity and reliability of the PDP behavioral assessments. The original validation studies were conducted in the 1970s and included working adults (not undergraduate students like many others). These studies found the original version of the ProScan Survey to have excellent reliability (with a Chronbach alpha coefficient of 0.94) and strong evidence of validity (with concurrent validity correlation coefficients ranging from 0.39 to 0.87). 

Since then, we’ve continued to provide evidence of reliability and validity. Most recently, we conducted multi-year research from 2019 to 2021 to achieve three confirmatory factor analyses (CFA). It is highly rigorous to attain CFA, which is why few competitors on the market volunteer to collect the necessary data and conduct the research. However, CFA is more impactful than stopping at the Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) level, and we wanted to demonstrate the steadfast performance of our ProScan Survey—which we did. All three CFAs resulted in Chronbach’s alpha coefficients above 0.87, much higher than the acceptable threshold of 0.70, indicating high reliability. 

In total, over 39,000 respondents participated in our ProScan research resulting in 11 EFAs and 3 CFAs. We were determined to adapt our trait descriptors to evolving modern language, which is why we continually tested ProScan verbiage over 11 EFAs. As a result, we deciphered the most statistically strong set of 30 words to include in the ProScan Survey. Then, the CFAs confirmed that the four-factor structure of Dominance, Extroversion, Pace, and Conformity, with Logic as a separate factor, had an excellent fit (indicating excellent validity). Previous research also showed that PDP behavioral assessments correlate directly with job performance and are free of disparate impact, meaning they are unbiased and don’t result in different results for different demographic groups. PDP talent management systems are Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant because they are completely objective.

EEOC and ADA Compliant Badges

PDP Global’s methods have been endorsed by the Center for Applied Psychology at the University of Colorado at Denver, following American Psychological Association standards. Moreover, we adhere to the principles for the validation of personnel selection procedures set forth by the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology.

Few competitors, including the Enneagram test, provide such rigorous evidence for the structure of their instruments even once. PDP regularly evaluates its assessment to ensure our products provide the most utility for our business clientele.

Use Cases

Enneagram Personality Test

The Enneagram test is best used for self-knowledge, spiritual growth, and personal development. Because of its limited reliability and validity, it’s not clear that it functions as well for use in business.

PDP Behavioral Assessment

PDP excels as a people management system for businesses to understand what type of individual would be successful in a given position, to help select appropriate candidates, and to make teams work more effectively. 

PDP Service Icons

Employers can use our behavioral assessments to:

  • Standardize hiring procedures
  • Match people to tasks and tailor jobs to talents
  • Improve the selection of new employees
  • Reduce employee interpersonal conflicts
  • Improve the interview with job applicants allowing the interviewee to be an integral part of the confirmation and conclusions
  • Measure and reduce employee stress
  • Identify employees near burn out
  • Improve employee satisfaction and morale
  • Uncover employees operating in quiet quitting mode

The benefits of PDP Global’s suite of behavioral assessment tools are:

  • Increasing morale and job satisfaction
  • Decreasing employee turnover
  • Recognizing strengths in others
  • Building team harmony
  • Increasing productivity
  • Increasing profits

PDP Global Improves Your People Strategy

Understanding the profile of your team and potential applicants empowers you to select the right candidates for your position and organization. 

While personality type indicators based on the Enneagram theory of personality might be fun and promote personal growth, they’re not designed to be useful to businesses.

PDP Global’s behavioral assessments can help you find the right people for the right job, harmonize teams, and boost business results. If you’re implementing a personality test or behavioral assessment in a workplace environment, PDP is your proven people management system for selection, motivation, and retention.

Try a free PDP assessment to see how it can impact your organization. Request a demo today.

Learn More
Topics:PDP Research