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DISC Theory: What is DISC?

A Brief Explanation of DISC Personality Types Dr. William Moulton Marston was the creator of DISC Theory at Harvard University in the 1920’s, while doing research for his book The Emotions of Normal People.  He was looking to identify predictable traits and behaviors of every day people in different environments. DISC styles are a combination of four behavioral personality types.

These styles are not black and white. We have some level of each of these styles 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; also taking into account how high or low each style is on the graphs.

By taking the DISC test and looking at one’s primary, secondary, tertiary and even absent style traits, we are able to determine one’s DISC personality type and how they will act, react, communicate, handle conflict, and even organize a project or work space in a given environment.

Styles commonly are different in the home environment, in a social environment, and in a work environment. This information can be very powerful 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 people are predictably different.


The DISC Personality test has been applied for business and personal application for over 30 years. The theory behind the test is based on Marston’s research, but 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 create different combinations and intensities for unique personalities. The DISC behavioral assessment is easy to understand and apply in a number of environments and applications.

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