DISC Theory: What is DISC?

A Brief Explanation of DISC Personality Types

Dr. William Moulton Marston founded DISC Theory at Harvard University in the 1920s while researching his book, The Emotions of Normal People. He was looking to identify predictable traits and behaviors of everyday people in different environments. DISC styles are a combination of four behavioral personality types:

These styles are not black and white. We all have some level of traits from each of the four types in our personality. It’s just a matter of what combinations are high or low. A high level of dominance predicts our behavior in the same way a low level of dominance does, so intensity does matter. When analyzing a person’s personality style, we look at which combinations are highest and consider how high or low each DISC style is on the DISC graphs.

By taking a DISC assessment, we can determine how someone will act, react, communicate, handle conflict, and even organize a project or workspace in a given environment. The resulting DISC report provides much detail into DISC personality type when looking at the primary, secondary, tertiary, and even absent DISC style traits.

DISC types commonly are different in the home environment, in a social setting, and a workplace environment. This information in the DISC profile can be compelling when used in hiring the right person for a position, increasing communication between teams and individuals, training managers and leaders, and many more DISC applications. By understanding one’s needs, fears, and tendencies in communication and behavior, you can proactively adapt or approach them in a way in which they will react positively. People are all different, but they are predictably different.

The DISC Personality test has been applied in both business and personal applications for over 30 years. The theory behind the DISC test is based on Marston’s research, and the disc model has been turned into a validated and reliable behavioral assessment tool, used internationally. In the same way that one could combine primary paint colors to create new and beautiful colors, the DISC uses the D, I, S, and C styles as the primary colors that make different combinations and intensities for unique personalities. The DISC assessment is easy to understand and apply in many environments and applications.

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