Personality Type Five


Fives like to see themselves as intelligent, observant, and perceptive people. They want to be capable and competent and do so by trying to figure out how things work. Fives believe that they don't have enough to cope with life and that they lack the inner guidance to know what to do. As a result, they retreat into the certainty and safety of their mind. There, they can observe, study, and read about life so they can prepare for it. Fives may become so focused on their mental world that they minimize their physical and emotional needs.

Fives believe that if they can understand something, they can master it. If they can master something, they will have the confidence to act. Unfortunately, the more they study, the more questions they raise, leading to further study. They may find it hard to break out of their "analysis paralysis" until they are completely certain.

Fives spend a great deal of time concentrating their attention on the outside world. However, rather than participating in it, they observe from the sidelines. Fives interiorize their observations and try to add what they have learned to an overall mental construct. It is their interpretation of the world that Fives relate to (rather than the real thing). When the real world doesn't make sense, they use their mental interpretation.


Average Fives see themselves as experts. They enjoy learning and building up their knowledge. They read, study, and research in an attempt to make up the inner guidance which they feel they lack.

Fives' minds are always active. There is a little voice in their heads that keeps an inner commentary on their observations. It is as if they remind themselves of what they already know.

Average Fives' ability to act and express themselves is proportional to their certainty. Fives want to be competent and secretly want to be as comfortable and confident as others. But Fives are terrified of looking foolish or appearing like they don't know what they are doing. Consequently, Fives think everything through before acting. They prepare and practice, previewing future events in their minds so that they can anticipate what will happen. This future-orientation makes closure difficult.

Fives usually have a quiet and reserved character. But between their ears is tremendous amount of mental activity: ideas and brainstorming and speculation that remains hidden from others. This energy becomes apparent when Fives talk about their passionate interests. Talkative and confident, they can go on for hours discussing or debating a topic within their expertise. But as soon as the subject moves outside their domain, they clam right up.

Average Fives concentrate their time, energy, and resources into their highly specialized pet projects. They prefer to work for hours on end and are most annoyed with interruptions to their train of thought. Their focus on the mental world comes at the expense of other aspects of life - emotional, relationships, physical. Combined with their withdrawal, this focus also removes them from what they are studying. Consequently, they become more attached to their interpretation than to the real thing.

Average Fives enjoy tinkering around with the details of their mental constructs, and by doing so, they miss the big picture. Fives often start working on the details even before the larger problem has been defined. Fives work on the problems they can solve and may not stop to ask themselves, "what is it that we're trying to do?" Fives are attracted to professions with strict rules and procedures (and preferably, little human contact). Scientific research, engineering, and computers are examples of careers where Fives thrive.

Average Fives are highly independent. They don't ask for help (it would make them look incompetent). They also reject their own physical and emotional needs. If left on their own, many average Fives would stay up late working on their projects, eating junk food, and wearing the same clothes for days. These "needs" interfere with their projects. Average Fives can also be highly secretive. Even their closest friends (they probably only have a few) don't know that the Five is writing a novel or learning a new language. When Fives do share personal information, they consider it a very important part of themselves and others should interpret it as a sign the Five really trusts them. Fives also believe that others won't understand the highly technical details of their projects. Fives often think that others aren't really smart enough to understand these projects anyways.

Fives fantasize about being invisible and secretly spying on the world. Average Fives almost achieve invisibility. They reduce their physical, social and emotional needs. They don't intrude on others and don't want others to intrude on them. Fives often feel the scarcity of their time, energy and money. They are very resourceful in making do with the little they have. Fives, therefore, can become stingy and may hoard the little they have. Of course, minimizing contact with others means you don't have to share.


At their Worst

As Fives increase their self-isolation, it becomes harder to understand the world around them. They give up the desire to interact and participate, opting instead to retreat to the safety and certainty of the mind. With fewer connections to the outside, their mental world and abstractions begin to diverge from reality, fueling fears of dangers and conspiracies.

Things make much more sense in their inner world than in the real one. By this stage, Fives are painting themselves in a corner, making it even harder to reconnect with the world. Their social interactions are often filled with reductionistic diatribes, spoken with confidence, but from a perspective too extreme for others to relate.

What leads Fives down the wrong path is the false believe that they must be an outside observer. Fives watch from the sidelines and don't feel a part of what is going on.

At their Best

Healthy Fives let go of their forced thinking and analysis and a need to be completely prepared for Life. Healthy Fives remain focused and independent, but they are open minded and spontaneous. They are extremely curious and have a deep love of learning and gaining new expertise.

Healthy Fives are extremely perceptive and observant. They scan the world and quickly find patterns and trends. They see the big picture and the details simultaneously, understanding how it all fits together. Their perspective is no longer from the sidelines, but from within. Healthy Fives are also in touch with their emotional and physical needs and understand how they balance and nurture the mind.

At their best, Fives let go of the belief that they are separate from their environment. They believe that full knowing comes from direct experience and full participation. They realize that they will never know everything and that they will never be prepared for all of Life's challenges. Yet, they have faith that they know enough to cope with Life. They feel a strong connection with the world and no longer need an interpretation to understand it.


Every personality type is "powered" by a different motivation. When "worn lightly," this motivation guides our behaviour through general tendencies and attachments. As this motivation becomes stronger, it becomes increasingly important to see ourselves in a certain way and to ensure that others see us that way, too. To accomplish this goal, we emphasize certain behaviours (and disown others) by playing a role. Sometimes we need to manipulate others or even undermine them to force them to see us as we want to be seen. Unfortunately, the more attached we become to our self-image, the less we see ourselves as we really are.


To be competent and capable


Become attached to values of knowledge, learning, perception
Self-Image: “I am an intelligent, perceptive person.”
Reject participation with and dependence on others.


Feel good about themselves when they have completely mastered something.
Relate to others primarily through their expertise and originality.


Prove self-image through their Social Role of the Expert. Tend to withdraw into their imagination to heighten and intensify their concepts and mental worlds


Manipulate others by staying preoccupied with their projects and detached from others.
Shadow Issue of Avarice arises when Fives minimize their needs and hoard their resources.


Undermine others by "proving" others are stupid.

Similarities with other Types

Fives seek security (like Sixes and Sevens)

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Fives are comfortable withdrawing away from the world (like Fours and Nines)

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Fives handle problems with a competency approach (like Ones and Threes)

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Fives tend to reject their own needs (like Twos and Eights)

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Interviews with Fives