What is the DISC Assessment?

The DISC assessment is a personality model that is designed to measure an individual’s personality and behavioral style. More than most other personality tests, the DISC assessment was designed specifically to be used in the workplace. It is typically used to improve communication and performance within teams.

In this post, we will get to know the DISC assessment a little better. Specifically, we will explore its history, its modern day use and what YOU can do next to kickstart your career search.

History of The DISC Assessment

The first glimpse of the DISC assessment appeared in 1928. William Moulton Marston, a psychological psychologist, introduced a new model of personality in his book “Emotions of Normal People“.

In this book, Marston proposed that people illustrate behavior as one of four primary styles: 1) Dominance (D); 2) Inducement (I); 3) Submission (S); and 4) Compliance (C)

Marston based these four styles of behavior on two underlying dimensions that he proposed influence a persons behavior:

  1. Whether they view the environment they are in as being favorable or unfavorable
  2. Whether they perceive themselves as having control over the situation they find themselves in.

Marston had little interest in the theoretical concepts of personality or temperament so never created his own tool. However, his early work did lead to the birth of the the DISC assessment that we know and love today!

The Modern DISC Model

The birth of the modern day DISC assessment is based on Marston’s model. In the 1940’s, Walter V. Clarke built a test for personnel selection called the ‘Activity Vector Analysis’. However, when collecting the data and analyzing the instrument, he discovered that the four factors produced from his data (aggressive, sociable, stable and avoidant) sounded a lot like the early theory introduced by Marston.

In 1956, Walter Clark officially adapted Maston’s theory. Since then, many versions of the DISC assessment have been made. However, they all still incorporate the four primary personality types (albeit under slightly different names) that were introduced by Marston nearly 100 years ago!

  • Dominance (D). These types are results-oriented, decisive and competitive.
  • Influence (I). These types are charming, enthusiastic, optimistic and persuasive.
  • Conscientious (C). These types are analytical, diplomatic, precise and compliant.
  • Steady (S). These types are direct, results-oriented, decisive and natural born problem solvers.

The 12 Styles in The DISC Assessment

What we see in many of the DISC models is 12 personality styles. Most of these styles, that are accompanied with nicknames, are combination of two of the primary DISC types. However, there is an exception for four of the styles, which are just represented by one letter!

Each of these styles have different primary emotions and behavioral responses. They all have different strengths in the workplace, and therefore will thrive in different careers. The 12 DISC personality styles are:

  • The D (The Winner) is strong-willed, self-reliant and profusely independent. As their nickname suggests, these types of people are very driven and goal-oriented.
  • The I (Enthusiast) is action-oriented, lively and energetic. In general, those with this style are enthusiastic about life and enjoy connecting with others.
  • The S (Peacekeeper) is gentle by nature. Often, they are optimistic, accommodating and, as their nickname suggests, they strive for harmony and peace.
  • The C (Analyst) is driven by accuracy and doing things correctly. These types are highly conscientious, and like to work in logical and rational ways.
  • The DC (Challenger) is diligent, results-focused and determined. Often, they are perfectionists and like things to be done accurately.
  • The DI (Seeker) is creative, action-oriented and innovative. They work well in teams and are great a bringing fresh ideas to the table.
  • The ID (Risk Taker) is, as their nickname suggests, adventurous and excitement seeking. They have fantastic social skills and tend to motivate others with their enthusiasm and creativity.
  • The IS (Buddy) is warm, friendly and supportive of others. As their nickname suggests, these styles thrive of collaboration and building friendships with others.
  • The SI (Collaborator) is encouraging, approachable and generous. Typically, they are team-players who cares greatly about supporting others.
  • The SC (Technician) focuses greatly on stability, support and accuracy. They tend to seek calm and steady environments that allow them to be systematic and controlled.
  • The CS (Bedrock) is reserved and even-tempered. The combination of the C and S personality types makes them profusely stable, structured and serious.
  • The CD (Perfectionist) is independent, disciplined and analytical. As their nickname suggests, CDs have high standards, are critical thinkers and like everything to be done perfectly.

What is the DISC Assessment Used For?

The DISC Assessment is commonly used for understanding interpersonal relationships within a workplace setting. It can be used to better understand and intentionally structure group or team dynamics. In a workplace setting, the model categorizes individual employee personality across four (4) primary temperaments and twelve (12) individual personality styles.

A successful team will have individuals serving different roles. Just as a football team with all quarterbacks and no receivers will struggle to succeed, so too will a work group with all “Dominance” individuals and no “Influence” contributors. Building a successful team is about filling the various roles – each person bringing unique contributors and talents to the group setting.

Conclusions & Next Steps

The DISC personality model has been adapted many times. Yet, each model is always based on the work of Marston in 1928. The DISC assessment proposes 12 simple personality styles that can be used to describe and understand our behavior in the workplace.

If you don’t already know your personality type, why not head to our personality tests page and find out about the different personality tests available? We also have career tests to help you identify possible career matches based on your personality.

Loving the topic of personality? Check out one of our recent posts on the debate between personality traits and personality types. 

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