Type 5: The Investigator/Observer


Observers/Thinkers/Investigators are typically introverted, curious, analytical and insightful. These are the owls of the Enneagram with a very boundaried approach to life. This person is quite observant and curious but generally likes to observe from a distance, slightly out of the group. Eventually, he or she gets bored or lonely and joins the group. But joining the group often provokes anxiety and brings a tendency to withdraw. They are constantly asking the question “Should I engage?” or “Should I withdraw?” Their instinct is to withdraw.  Facts and information serve as guides for what is important to Investigator 5s.

Gifts to the World:

Investigator 5s are the intellectual deep divers of the Enneagram. Their ability to focus, penetrate and go deep into information enables them to create systems, inventions and infrastructures that often benefit the rest of us. Sparks of genius often fuel their inventions, and Investigator 5s are responsible for some of the most transformative inventions in the world.


Investigator 5s Typically Report

1) A Desire to Understand Exactly What Is Being Asked of Them in a Situation
Investigator 5s report feeling uncertain and sometimes anxious about being able to meet the needs of others. They like to understand very clearly what is being asked of them in a situation. This desire stems from a concern about resources and a general feeling of scarcity. While there can be exceptions, they generally don’t like surprise meetings, unplanned activities, unscheduled assignments or nebulous instructions.
“The feeling is like I start each morning with a quarter of a tank of gas, and I have to figure out how I’m going to make it through the entire day. I’m very aware of who I need to see, how much time it will require, and so forth.“


2) A Strong Need for Time Alone Each Day
Investigator 5s typically report needing some time alone each day. During this time, they process feelings, they think and recharge, and they reflect on the events of the day. Investigator 5s typically report they do not have problems establishing personal boundaries with others. They tend to approach the world on their terms, and because of their independent nature and their relative comfort with isolation, they don’t easily get swept into doing things they don’t want to do.
“The idea of not getting time alone each day is almost inconceivable to me. If I don’t get it, I’ll find it. If I don’t find it, I feel like I’ll have a nervous breakdown. It is that critical to me.”
3) They Spend a Lot of Time in Their Heads
Investigator 5s typically report they spend a lot of time in their heads. A highly cerebral type, most Investigator 5s report they can easily spend hours thinking, studying and reading without interruption. This recharges and nourishes them. They also report that the distance between their head and mouth is very long. They have many thoughts that are never verbalized.
“When I was younger, I used to think my body was just a vessel to carry my head around. I really didn’t see the point of the body, and I definitely didn’t feel connected with mine.”


Tools for Compassion If You Have Investigator 5s in Your Life

1) Understand it is hard for Investigator 5s to say yes to a request without very careful consideration
Investigator 5s  are keenly aware of resources, including their personal energy, and they often experience concerns about scarcity. Keep this in mind when asking them to do something (a personal favor, a work project). Generally, they will only agree to a request with a lot of thought and analysis. For Investigator 5s, the instinctive answer for a request or favor is often No. This isn’t personal as much as they feel anxious that they don’t have what it takes to meet the request. They also report a concern about disappointing the person making the request.
2) Understand it can be difficult for Investigator 5s to openly discuss emotions
Investigator 5s often don’t know what they are feeling in the moment and need to process the events after the fact to really tune into their emotions. Investigator 5s are more comfortable in the world of facts and information than in the world of emotion. Because Investigator 5s have an underlying concern of being overwhelmed, and the emotional world can quickly turn overwhelming, they gravitate away from discussing feelings. It’s important to understand this isn’t personal, and it doesn’t mean they don’t care— their minds just move away from the emotional world.


3) Be aware surprises aren’t usually a positive thing for most Investigator 5s
Investigator 5s like to understand the requirements of each situation. They like to plan, and they don’t always like surprises. It can come as a shock to many friends of Investigator 5s that a surprise visit isn’t welcome. Some Investigator 5s even report hiding when they have an unscheduled visitor at the front door, even if that person is a good friend.