Enneagram Type 4 and Type 6: Similarities and Differences

Are you a Four – or are you really a Six with Fourish tendencies? Or vice versa? Because each of us has all nine types in us, it can sometimes be hard to type ourselves and those around us. (But remember: don’t tell others what type you think they are! That’s not your job.) Enneagram Type 4 and Type 6 have some overlapping traits and behaviors, which can sometimes lead to confusion or mistyping. In fact, one of the members of my monthly EnneaGroup spent a long while struggling to determine which of these two types he is.

So, I thought it would be helpful to write a blog post to help people differentiate between the two. Here are some ways in which these two types can appear similar:

1. Seeking Support and Reassurance: Both Type 4s and Type 6s may seek support and reassurance from others, albeit for different reasons. Type 4s may seek validation for their unique identity and emotions, while Type 6s seek reassurance for their security concerns and doubts.

2. Anxiety and Worry: While the sources of anxiety differ, both types can experience high levels of anxiety. Type 4s may be anxious about feeling misunderstood or rejected, while Type 6s are anxious about potential dangers and uncertainties – especially when it comes to making decisions.

3. Introspection: Both types can be introspective and self-reflective. Type Fours often explore their inner emotional landscapes, while Type Sixes may engage in self-questioning and analysis of potential threats.

4. Strong Emotional Responses: Both types can have strong emotional reactions, although the triggers and expressions of these emotions may vary. Type 4s are known for their depth of emotion, and some can be mercurial, while Type 6s may exhibit anxiety-driven emotions as they look for support and test those they’re close to as a way to find out if they’ll be supportive.

5. Attachment to Security: While the reasons for attachment differ, both types can be attached to a sense of security. Type 4s may seek security in the form of emotional understanding and acceptance, while Type 6s seek external security measures. Fours may also seek financial security from a loved one so they are freed to pursue their creative endeavors.

6. Doubt and Self-Questioning: Both types can experience self-doubt, albeit for different reasons. Type 4s may doubt their worthiness or uniqueness, while Type 6s may doubt their ability to handle challenges or make the right decisions.

7. Relationship Intensity: Both are part of a Harmonic Group with Type 8 called “Emotional Realness.” Type 4s may have intense emotional connections, while Type 6s can be deeply loyal and committed. Both simultaneously trust and distrust others, which can make relationships hard. Fours are looking for a rescuer who will understand them, and Sixes are looking for someone to rely on while being “the strong one.”

It’s essential to remember that the Enneagram is a dynamic system, and individuals are unique in how they manifest their type. Mistyping can occur, especially when individuals are not self-aware or when their behaviors are influenced by external factors. A thorough understanding of the Enneagram and its underlying motivations can help you type more accurately.

Difference between Enneagram Type Four and Type Six

Now that we’ve looked at the similarities, it’s important to remember that Enneagram Type 4 and Type 6 are distinct personality types with unique characteristics and motivations. Here are several key differences between these two types:

1. Core Fear and Desire:

   – Type 4 (The Individualist): Fours fear being insignificant or without a unique identity. They desire to find their own sense of identity and authenticity.

   – Type 6 (The Loyalist): Sixes fear insecurity and unpredictability in their environment. They desire safety, security and support from others.

As you can see, these are quite different sets of preoccupations.

2. Core Motivation:

   – Type 4: Fours are motivated by the pursuit of individuality and a desire to be understood and appreciated for their uniqueness.

   – Type 6: Sixes are motivated by a need for security and the desire to plan for potential threats and dangers.

3. Emotional Orientation:

   – Type 4: Fours are in the “heart” or Feeling triad, which means they tend to be more focused on their emotions, seeking depth and authenticity in their feelings.

   – Type 6: Sixes are in the “head” or Thinking triad, which means they are more analytical and tend to think through potential risks and problems.

4. Coping Mechanisms:

   – Type 4: Fours may cope with their fears and insecurities by withdrawing into their emotions, seeking creative outlets, and sometimes embracing melancholy or drama.

   – Type 6: Sixes cope with fear by seeking reassurance from trusted individuals, planning for contingencies, and sometimes displaying skepticism or doubt.

5. Relationships:

   – Type 4: Fours may be drawn to unique, artistic or emotionally expressive individuals. They may struggle with envy and longing in their relationships.

   – Type 6: Sixes value loyalty and dependability in their relationships. They may experience anxiety and a need for reassurance from their loved ones.

6. Stress and Growth:

   – In stress, Type 4s can exhibit Type 2-like behavior, becoming more people-pleasing and dependent on others for validation.

   – In growth, Type 4s can integrate towards Type 1, becoming more focused, organized, and principled.

   – In stress, Type 6s can exhibit Type 3-like behavior, becoming more competitive and achievement-oriented.

   – In growth, Type 6s can integrate towards Type 9, becoming more relaxed, self-assured, and at ease.

7. Decision-Making:

   – Type 4s may make decisions based on their emotions and personal values.

   – Type 6s may make decisions based on practicality and the potential risks involved.

Asking good questions

One helpful way to distinguish between Types Four and Six is by asking the differentiating questions from Ginger Lapid-Bogda’s great book, The Art of Typing:

1. Do you relate to your experience primarily from your heart and emotions or from your head and thinking?

If the heart/emotions are primary, that’s a good indication you’re a Four; if you’re processing experiences with the head/thinking center, you’re likely to be a Six.

2. Do you perceive yourself and do others perceive you as more of a very deep person or more of a complex person?

“Deep” correlates to Four and “complex” to Six.

3. What do you do for fun?

Type 6 is often less fun-oriented than 4. Yes, Fours are deep, but they enjoy having fun and enjoy talking about it. Sixes have to think about how they have fun because it’s not a priority; it’s harder for Type 6 to relax and have fun for its own sake.

Telling the difference

It’s important to note that Enneagram types are multifaceted, and individuals may display different traits or behaviors based on their level of health, stress, values, Wings and various other factors. But the information I’ve noted above should help you gain greater clarity when distinguishing between Fours and Sixes.

If you’d like a handy visual “cheat sheet” for the types, my husband and I have created an Enneagram Quick Reference Guide. You can get yours here: https://www.subscribepage.com/w8d0v6.




  1. Stop slandering 6s on at

    No, sixes aren’t boring, but the fact that you quite desperately want us to be is just a (boring) projection of your own insecurities. What an extraordinarily awful thing to say. The majority of sixes have 7 wings but they’re not “fun oriented?’
    Sorry but that’s flaming garbage.

  2. hhavlick on at

    Hi – looks like you did not understand the full context of my comment. I’m paraphrasing from Lapid-Bogda’s book: “Type 6 is often less fun-oriented than 4. Yes, Fours are deep, but they enjoy having fun and enjoy talking about it. Sixes have to think about how they have fun because it’s not a priority; it’s harder for Type 6 to relax and have fun for its own sake.” This in no way means I think they’re boring. My husband is a 6w7 and he makes me laugh every day. Sixes are actually my favorite type! The point here is that in comparison to Fours, Sixes are less prone to spontaneously seek out fun as a general rule. And notice the word “often.” Every Six is unique, and it sounds like you are one who is fun-oriented or knows one who is. The Enneagram is a set of guidelines, not absolute hard-and-fast rules. I love that about the Enneagram, because it allows room for individuality. Not everything it says about Sevens applies to me, but enough does that I know this is the type I landed on.

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