How Do You Get What You Want - Hornevian Groups

Enneagram, Hornevian Groups -

How Do You Get What You Want - Hornevian Groups

Let’s talk about a lesser-known splitting of the Enneagram into three sections called the Horvenian Triads, or sometimes called the Social Stances. Before we dig into this grouping, we need to recap the basic Enneagram Triads: Instinctive (gut), Feeling (heart), and Thinking (head).

In the Instinctive Triad, the Primary Drive is Control. Here, people want to gain control by protecting themselves (8’s), achieving stability and have connection (9’s), or being good and having integrity (1’s).

In the Feeling Triad, the Primary Drive is Identity. Here, people attempt to find their identity by feeling loved (2’s), feeling valuable (3’s), or finding their significance (4’s).

In the Thinking Triad, the primary drive is Safety. Here, people try to achieve safety by having their needs met (7’s), having security and support (6’s), or being capable and competent (5’s).

Okay, so knowing each triad and their primary drive is really important going into the Hornevian Groups because, while the Triads show WHAT the numbers want, the Hornevian Groups show HOW each number achieves what they want.

When you overlay the Hornevian Groupings over the Instinctive/Feeling/Thinking Triads, you notice one from each Triad falls into one of each Hornevian Group. Therefore, one Instinctive type is Assertive (8), one Instinctive type is Compliant (1), and one Instinctive type is Withdrawn (9). And, the same goes for each the Feeling and Thinking types.



In the next few blogs, we’ll talk about each Hornevian Group and show how the Enneagram numbers inside of them react in social situations in order to achieve their primary drives and desires. Thanks for being along for the ride!




1. The Assertives

First up are the Assertive Types. This one is for all you 3’s, 7’s, and 8’s out there. Assertive types (sometimes called “aggressive”) are known for going after what they want. Instead of withdrawing or complying with the people around them, they move against others in order to achieve their needs and wants (like control, acceptance, or safety). These are the people who take charge, take action, and DEMAND results. They are frequently recognized for their independence, ambition, and outward confidence. For anyone interested in Freud, these are the types that are centered on their own ego.

Even though 3’s, 7’s, and 8’s have this common assertive thread, the way they assert themselves shows up differently.

For 8’s, their primary drive is control. When they assert themselves to gain control, it can come across as confrontational and sometimes downright aggressive. They don’t shy away from challenging authority and will do what it takes to be in control of their situation.

On the other hand, 7’s are looking for security and support rather than control. They are always looking for a good time and often feel it’s owed to them. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll assert themselves and demand something changes or they’ll leave and make their own fun somewhere else.

Both 7’s and 8’s tend to enter a room and expect to be the center of attention, and don’t mind having that attention.

Enneagram 3’s are slightly different. They still have the assertive/aggressive nature and go after what they want, but they rely on the opinions and acceptance of the group much more than 7’s and 8’s. In order to achieve their deepest desire (identity/acceptance), they assert themselves in hopes of making other people like and accept them. If they aren’t accepted, they change themselves in order to fit the mold and be liked.

One of the things I love about looking at the #Enneagram from these different triads, is that it ties numbers together that don’t always seem to have as much.




2. The Compliants

The word “compliant” may make you think these numbers are naturally compliant to the will of other people, but that’s not necessarily true. Above other numbers, 1’s, 2’s, and 6’s are compliant to their own superegos. That means, they are always reflecting on their self-critical conscience to tell them what the “right” decision or action may be. Above all, they feel the need to EARN what they want.

These numbers are often recognized for being of service to other people. They are on the lookout for the greater good, they like to follow the rules and live up to social norms. In addition, people in this group tend to (consciously or unconsciously) assume they are better than other people.

For Enneagram 1, their primary drive is control. Their social stance is often one that, if they follow the rules and do what is right, they can achieve what they want. They often find themselves in positions of authority. If they walk into an event or situation that is disorganized they immediately notice how it would be better if they were in charge.

Enneagram 2  is in search of identity and acceptance. Often labeled “The Helper,” they seek to get what they want by jumping to the assistance of someone else. People in this group often seem like they want to fly under the radar, but they can also assume the “martyr” role if no one recognizes or appreciates them for their actions.

Enneagram 6  is looking for safety and security and therefore are more prone to feelings of inferiority than 1’s and 2’s. Their feelings of being “better than” other people often stem from being part of a larger group they identify with. For example, they take pride in belonging to a certain political party or coming from a certain city. They often achieve what they want by leaning into the group’s definition of right and wrong.

All three of these numbers come from separate main triads, yet have this very common thread of compliance in their Social Stances. This is just another reminder that we have more in common with other personality types than we may think!




3. The Withdrawns

Last but not least, let’s talk about the Withdrawn Types - 9’s, 4’s, and 5’s.

A Withdrawn Type’s social stance is to retreat into themselves or move away from people to achieve what they want or need. These are the types who tend to feel out of place in a group and have a sense that they don’t belong. More than other numbers, 9’s, 4’s, and 5’s have an ability to reflect on their inner space and are very in touch with their imaginations.

Enneagram 9 has a primary drive for control. They may appear as if they like being part of a group but will disengage if they feel threatened. If they start to feel like someone is crossing a line into their territory, they will disconnect and retreat in order to protect themselves and their loved ones. Unlike 4's and 5's, 9's have the ability to remain physically present, but withdraw mentally.

Enneagram 4 has a primary drive for identity. They often withdraw because they don’t feel like they have anything in common with anyone. Fours can come off as mysterious or stand-offish. When they retreat, it may be because the social situation makes them uncomfortable, but they likely hope that someone will notice and come after them.

Enneagram 5 has a primary drive for safety and security. They often feel out of place in social situations and prefer to watch from afar. Groups are more comfortable to 5's when they can identify the purpose of the gathering, but spontaneous get-togethers can confuse them. Unlike 4’s, when they retreat, they don’t want to be chased down. They believe their safety and security comes from disconnecting and being alone.

Each number from this Hornevian Group comes from a different main triad. And, there are even more ways to split up the Enneagram circle. As I keep exploring and studying the Enneagram, I’m going to write more in-depth series like this one. So, if there’s something you’re really wanting to learn, let me know!


  • Rachel McGee

    I was really impressed with your crystal-clear explanation and engaging writing. Without a doubt, it’s the most logical and easy-to-understand description of the Hornevian groups that I’ve ever seen. I’m going to come to your blog a lot from now on.

  • Taylor

    I’m a 4 and was told I was a 6 recently by someone who adamantly believed so. I was pretty confused for a bit (because 6 is second in my tritype & is probably pretty evident) but this article completely cleared it up for me. Thank you so much!!!!

  • mor

    i think there is a relation between these hornevian groups, and harnoy informal clusters, and PEN personality dimentions. all of them are related by brain and nervous systems malfunctioning.

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