Hornevian Grouping

The founders of the Enneagram Institute, Don Riso and Russ Hudson named these Triads after Karen Horney, a German-born psychiatrist who was studying social and interpersonal relationship dynamics,among other things. Horney’s theories coinside with how the various Enneagram types behave and reach their goals in social interactions. In short, the Hornevian Triads describe the typical ways we act in society to get our needs met.


As you may have notices, the Enneagram likes ’groups of threes’ – this one also sorts the Enneagram types into triads. One reason why people in the same Triad may get mistyped could be the reactions they get from their those around them reflecting about their behavior in social settings.

Assertive Triad – moving against

Sevens, Eights and Threes belong to this Triad. They tend to move against others in order to get what they need. Their strategy is to show up, let themselves be seen and heard in an assertive way.

SEVENS have no difficulty standing up for themselves. They usually know well what they want and are ready to take action. Driven by an unlimited supply of energy, they are great motivators. Once they have a vision, Sevens can be unstoppable. Also, they usually care less about the opinion of others.

EIGHTS cannot help but dominate the scene. The feel they must demonstrate their dominance and, if in charge, lead with command. They usually show up bigger and more often than what is necessary.

THREES long for the approval of whatever group they are in, so they tend to shape-shift in order to meet their objectives. They look to find the most efficient way of asserting themselves – depending on the circumstances.

Compliant Triad – moving along

Ones, Twos and Sixes belong to this group. They tend to adhere or move along with people in order to get what they want. They scan their social environment figuring out what is expected of them, and then act accordingly.

ONES are driven by a strong inner voice to comply with the rules which they willingly do, unless these rules are against their convictions. They tend to find a way to meet their goals within a society rather than challeng the system.

TWOS are driven by the need to help others. They readily take on the role of a helper and offer their assistance whenever they can. If a structure allows them to be needed, they happily comply.

SIXES long for a safe and secure environment. In fear of being insecure on their own, they tend to be the most traditionally compliant type. They value the safety net of a herd or larger association, and do not mind keeping to their rules. Counter-phobic Sixes often test the authority – acting in an attempt to overcome their fear.

Withdrawal Triad – moving away

Fours, Fives and Nines belong to this group. They get their name because they withdraw from people to get what they need.

FOURS long for attention but do not like to fight for it. Whenever they fail to get the desired attention, they tend to withdraw mostly socially opting for their own landscape of fantasies.

FIVES are afraid that social interactions deplete their precious mental resources, so they often opt for abandoning social interactions. They tend to withdraw mostly physically thus ensuring privacy for themselves.

NINES tend to withdraw in a seemingly less obvious way. While remaining physically on the spot they tune out mentally. Because they value the inner sanctum of being, if circumstances allow, they simply escape from the real world by ’flying their mind away’ to their own detached landscape.

Want to learn more about the Enneagram?

Discover the big picture. Check out our online Enneagram course which gives a comprehensive overview plus a personalized GPS to navigate your own inner landscape.