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A Comprehensive Guide to DISC Personality

A Comprehensive Guide to DISC Personality

Updated on May 17, 2022 | Published on Dec 21, 2019

Reviewed by Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD , Certified Psychiatrist

What is DISC Profile and DISC Personality Types

Key Takeaways


  • DISC is an acronym for four types of personalities, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.
  • DISC theory was proposed by Dr. William Moulton Marston in the year 1928.
  • DiSC (with a lowercase i) differs from DISC in that a printing typo was turned into a distinguishable trademark.  
  • There are eight behavioral styles that are a blend of the four primary DiSC personalities.

DISC personality is an acronym for four different personality styles, which are covered in fair detail below. It is a common language everyone can use to gain insights into themselves and those around them. 

Typically, the DISC theory and assessment are used to help people reduce conflicts and improve their relationships. It is beneficial in various settings, including personal and professional ones.

DISC Personality Infographics


DISC - Definition & DISC Personality Types
DISC – Definition & DISC Personality Types
DISC Personality Traits
DISC Personality Traits

DISC Personality

SUMMARY
DISC stands for four primary personality types and is helpful in comprehending human behavior.

DISC is the abbreviation of four types of personality, as determined by the DISC model of behavior. It stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

It is a simple yet powerful tool for understanding human behavior. 

Understanding a person’s DISC profile will allow them to optimize their functioning in various settings. They can learn to accept themselves while working on their shortcomings. 

Moreover, it helps people adjust their style of interaction. Specifically, they can do so based on the profile of the party with whom they are conversing. 


What Is DISC?

It is easiest to understand what DISC is in the following terms. DISC is: 

  1. A Universal Language – It is a tool that serves as a common language for everyone and can be applied universally.
  2. A Behavioral Language – DISC is behavior-oriented and does not place much emphasis on emotions. It is important to keep in mind that it is not a diagnostic or clinical tool.
  3. An Understandable Language – DISC comprises four primary dimensions, along with their blends and intensities. It is easily comprehensible.
  4. A Practical Language – It effortlessly applies to people from all walks of life. It is a useful application in various areas, such as social, organizational, and interpersonal settings. People can also use dISC for personal growth. 
  5. A Neutral Language – In DISC, there is no right or wrong, good or bad. Every style has its strengths and areas of improvement.

History of DISC

The DISC personality styles are based on the behavioral model proposed by physiological psychologist William Moulton Marston. Marston received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, which is also where he validated his studies. 

The theory on which DISC is based is established in his book Emotions of Normal People, published in 1928. According to Marston, the four dimensions of DISC characterize predictable traits that are observable in everyday life.

Marston specifically streamlined his attention to specific psychological phenomena. He ensured these concepts were objectively observable and measurable. He believed our personalities are both innate and driven by our external environment.

Through his research findings, he postulated that there are four primary types of overt emotional expression.

These behavioral expressions arise from the individual’s perception of themselves regarding their surroundings.

Marston labeled these four types as follows.

  1. Dominance (D)
  2. Influence (I)
  3. Steadiness (S)
  4. Compliance (C)

DISC measurement, however, began in the 1940s with Walter V. Clarke. An industrial psychologist, Clarke formulated an assessment for personnel selection. He named this test the Activity Vector Analysis. 

Clarke later analyzed the data collated in his instrument. Then, he realized that the four factors he discovered are uncannily similar to the DISC types.

Therefore, he concluded that this information is best explained by the DISC model of human behavior. 


DISC Personality Types

In 1928, Dr. William Marston postulated the DISC model, which gave birth to DISC personality tests. He introduced four primary personality types based on two factors. 

The first factor revolves around whether or not one sees their environment as favorable. The second involves whether one believes that they have control over their surroundings.

In the 1940s, Walter Clarke developed Dr. Marston’s work, which is the model currently in use. This model aims to measure human behavior across four dimensions, namely Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. 

  1. Dominance – Dominant individuals are known for their direct nature. They are strong-willed and assertive.
  2. Influence – People with high influential traits are sociable, enthusiastic, optimistic, and persuasive. 
  3. Steadiness – Individuals with this DISC style are gentle, kind, patient, accommodating, and welcoming. 
  4. Conscientiousness – People with a conscientious personality are likely to keep their lives private. They are also analytical in the way they think.

DISC Personality Test

The theory postulated by Dr. William Moulton Marston forms the basis for DISC personality tests. The DISC model revolves around four DISC dimensions, namely Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C).

Various organizations, big and small, use DISC tests worldwide. Understanding DISC profiles helps establish a stronger, more effective, and efficient work culture and relationships.

People use DISC tests for the purpose of personal growth, recruitment, establishing interpersonal relationships, and mentoring.

Additionally, it can help individuals in their job hunt. You can match your skill set to the requirements of specific job positions. 


DISC vs DiSC

Dr. William Marston postulated the DISC model but did not do so with the intention of creating an assessment. The DISC assessment has undergone various revisions over the years by different publishers. 

Different DISC publishers have different names for the four DISC types. Dominance vs Drive and Influence vs Inducement are a couple of examples. These differences are negligible and reflect the preferences of each publishing house.

However, a significant variation exists between DISC and DiSC, with the latter making use of the lowercase ‘i.’ In hindsight, this dissimilarity was a humorous mistake, which was later intelligently used as a marketing strategy.

Among the various publishers was a small company known as Performax. This company placed an order for their DISC personality assessment. When they received it from the printing press, there was a typo wherein DISC was spelled with a lowercase i as DiSC. 

Considering their lack of budget, they made use of this mistake to copyright their DiSC assessment.

Nowadays, the typo serves as a remarkable way to distinguish the assessment published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. from the rest.


Advantages of Using DiSC Personality Test

As noted earlier, the DISC model has various advantages. Here, you will gain a deeper insight into how the DiSC assessment can help people, particularly in organizational settings.

1. Increases self-awareness

Knowing your DiSC profile will help you become more knowledgeable about yourself. You will understand more about your traits, strengths, weaknesses, and improvement areas. To make any genuine change, it takes a tremendous amount of self-awareness. 

This in-depth knowledge will help you understand how you respond in times of conflict and change.

It also shows you what motivates you to perform better, what stressors decrease your effectiveness, and how you solve problems.

2. Builds stronger teams

Every organization requires a strong and effective team to get things done properly. DiSC profiles will enable you to understand key aspects of groups.

It will show you the style of communication and level of understanding that exists among team members.

When you understand these aspects, you will know what to improve and what to keep. This process will help you build a cohesive and powerful work environment for teams and individuals to flourish.

3. Fosters productive conflict

Conflicts create an unpleasant atmosphere that is not conducive to effective work. On the flip side, if individuals perceive and deal with the conflict deftly, it can create opportunities for growth. 

DiSC profiles can help you achieve this. Getting valuable insights through DiSC assessments can turn any conflict into favorable and productive exercises.

Doing so will help your organization move forward smoothly.

4. Improve sales skills

Sales are one of the biggest revenue-generating parts of an organization. DiSC profiles can enable you to improve the sales scenario at your workplace. 

Getting insights into your customers’ preferences and adapting accordingly is crucial. You need to do this in order to connect on a human level and ensure you and the consumers agree. 

5. Increase effectiveness of management

Managers become much more effective when they acknowledge and understand their employees better.

They must gain insights into employees’ preferred working styles, their traits, strengths, and weaknesses. 

Understanding these aspects will allow them to lead better. They would know how to optimally use their employees’ skills while making sure they are satisfied.

After all, employees are the biggest assets to any organization.

6. Non-judgmental training

For training to be most effective, it is necessary for the trainees to feel safe and comfortable.

DiSC profiles provide objective, necessary, and judgment-free information that will help trainers and trainees.


DiSC Personality Profile

As seen already, DiSC personality profiles include four types, namely (D)ominance, (i)nfluence, (S)teadiness, and (C)onscientiousness. Are you curious to know more about each of these styles? If yes, keep reading!

1. Dominance

People with traits of Dominance are likely to have a sense of confidence. This DiSC type emphasizes accomplishments and is result-oriented.

These individuals fear coming across as vulnerable. They are also afraid of being taken for granted.

Taking action, tangible results, independence, and being challenged comprise their values. They are likely to go overboard with their need for achievement. Consequently, they tend to be in win-lose situations.

When in conflict, they stand up for themselves and are open to talking about their issues. At the same time, they can become vengeful and try to even the scores. 

Their goals include striving for achievements and independence, exploring novel opportunities, and controlling their environment.

Meanwhile, they struggle with being patient, sensitive, and taking the time to explain things. 

As leaders, this personality is commanding. They are confident, results-oriented, pioneering, and determined.

Regarding the strengths of D profiles, these individuals are unafraid to take on challenges. They are quick to take action and focus on completing tasks.

They are also comfortable pushing people out of their comfort zones, particularly reserved individuals.

With that said, people tend to find them rather intimidating. They struggle with connecting with people as they do not come across as approachable. 

These traits can make it difficult for them to expand their network. For professional growth, sometimes, it is important to go the extra mile with people.

2. Influence

People with traits of influence are open to experiences and ideas. They place importance on building relationships. Moreover, they are excellent at influencing and persuading people. 

People with these traits fear a loss of influence. They also fear disapproval and being ignored.

Individuals with influence traits value counseling, establishing democratic relationships, and the freedom to express oneself. They are also people-oriented.

During conflicts, individuals with this profile are open to expressing their feelings. At the same time, they are also likely to gossip. 

Moreover, their goals include achieving things with grace. They are focused on pursuing happiness and friendships.

Also, they tend to seek approval and popularity. With that said, they find it challenging to stay organized, resist impulses, be direct, and follow through.

Additionally, as leaders, this profile is on the lookout for new ideas. They are energizing, pioneering, and unstructured. 

A person with influential personality traits is excellent at exploring novel ideas. They are warm, welcoming, and are inherently great at making people feel comfortable. In other words, they connect with others rather easily. 

However, their tendency to multitask and jump between tasks can prove to be setbacks. These characteristics can hinder their professional growth in many ways.

3. Steadiness

Trustworthiness characterizes S. They are reliable and focus on cooperation and sincerity. These individuals fear change, instability, and offending and disappointing others. 

People with these traits are likely to over compromise and overuse modesty. They also tend to resist change passively. 

In times of conflict, they prefer listening to others’ perspectives. However, in the process, they end up pushing away their own needs.

The goals of i profiles include cultivating peace, stability, teamwork, and group acceptance. They wish to achieve power by means of formal hierarchies.

Also, they desire to maintain the status quo and need a sense of control over their environment.

On the other hand, they find it exhausting to adapt to situations, confront others, sell themselves, and make decisions. 

S-style leaders are inclusive, humble, and work toward group consensus. They are always on the lookout for creating win-win situations. Moreover, they provide verbal affirmations and are supportive and patient. 

Overall, an S profile’s strengths lie in its accommodating and empathetic nature. These can help in the establishment of a calm and stable environment.

They are also outstanding while dealing with situations that call for diplomacy, teamwork, and understanding people.

On the flip side, they find it challenging to expand their network. They are comfortable being a part of their close-knit circle.

Although fiercely loyal, they can experience difficulty in situations that call for networking. 

4. Conscientiousness

C DiSC personality profiles are oriented toward producing quality work. They pay attention to detail and accuracy. Consequently, they focus on building competence and becoming experts.

These personalities fear criticism. They are also afraid of intense expressions of emotions. Moreover, they are likely to over-analyze situations or restrain themselves. 

The goals of C personalities include being process-oriented, accurate, achieving stability, and attaining knowledge.

They find it challenging to hold themselves back from being overcritical. Similarly, they find it hard to let go of responsibilities or compromise.

As leaders, C-style personalities are deliberate, determined, and humble. They are conscientious, averse to risk, perfectionistic, and analytical. 

The strengths of a DiSC C profile typically include decision-making skills and flexibility.

They can easily accommodate new information, which makes them adapt fairly well to changing circumstances. These qualities make them excellent at problem-solving.

However, they may require too much space and autonomy. This trait makes it challenging for them to work on tasks that require a team effort. 


DiSC Personality Traits

Outlined below is a summary or quick overview of the personality traits that characterize each of the primary DiSC profiles. 

1. Dominance or D Style

  • Achievement-oriented 
  • Focused on results
  • Enjoy fast-paced environments 
  • Tend to overlook strategy and logic
  • Go-with-the-flow attitude
  • Objective, straightforward
  • Love physical activities

2. Influential or i Style

  • Focused on positivity
  • Charismatic 
  • Outstanding communicators and influencers
  • Seek approval and appreciation
  • Love working in groups of people
  • Enjoy brainstorming sessions
  • Likely to take on too many projects at once

3. Steadiness or S Style

  • Respectful of others’ space
  • Focused on strategizing 
  • Enjoy working with concrete concepts
  • Methodical 
  • Work toward achieving stability
  • Love structured routines
  • Supportive of others’ feelings and ideas

4. Conscientiousness or C Style

  • Analytical 
  • Focused on factual information
  • Detail-oriented 
  • Task-oriented 
  • Work toward achieving accuracy
  • Inquisitive and interrogative
  • Enjoy creating and adhering to rules
  • Know how to avoid interruptions and stay on track

DiSC Personality Analysis: Temperament and Communication

So far, you have gained insights into the four DiSC personality styles. Now, you will develop an understanding of the temperament and communication styles of each profile.

1. Dominance

Temperament

A dominant personality is confident and can be quick to end conversations if they do not appease them.

They have novel ideas, are straightforward, and come across as opinionated and even blunt. With that said, there is less chance of miscommunication.

Moreover, they are unwilling to ease into situations. They are assertive, love taking charge, and do not stop to assess the big picture. When they decide their goal, they turn unstoppable.

At the same time, they are open to others’ suggestions if it implies getting their job done faster. Overall, they are competitive personalities and typically fill leadership roles. 

Communication Style

People with high dominant traits are efficient communicators. They prefer keeping their emails short. D-styles are quick to skip the details and look at the world in a rather generic light.

 It is, then, no surprise that these individuals dislike small talk. According to them, such light conversations are a waste of resources, as they are directionless.

2. Influential

Temperament

People with influential personality traits are persuasive, talkative, and gregarious. They are energetic and likely to spread positivity in most situations.

Also, they are open about their thoughts and feelings. Therefore, i-styles are known for their outstanding communication.

In social situations, they do not hesitate to introduce themselves. They are warm, welcoming and almost always leave a pleasant impact on others. All of these traits enable them to focus on those around them and lead people effectively.

Communication Style

i personality profiles take interest in talking about everything under the sun. These individuals are physically and emotionally expressive. They do not shy away from gesticulating and using facial expressions while communicating. 

Individuals with i personalities desire social conversations even in professional settings. They are fond of brainstorming sessions where they can collaborate with others. 

At the same time, they do not hold back from making major decisions independently when required.

These individuals are natural analytical thinkers. They also like being thorough before arriving at any conclusions.

3. Steadiness

Temperament

S-styles are calm, composed, and are intentional with their words and actions. They are naturally stable, making them patient and accommodating. While talking to people, they are thoughtful and do not rush their responses. 

In general, these profiles have a positive mindset and are gentle. They are open to people and experiences but require time to assess their surroundings and adapt accordingly. 

Their tendency to keep to themselves can often come across as aloof and cold. However, they simply prefer working steadily without distractions.

They are also likely to resist change apart from being conflict-averse. 

People with this DiSC profile bring balance among the more outgoing types. They also provide support to individuals who are analytical and detail-oriented. 

Communication Style

Individuals with S personalities are gentle, soft-spoken, and reserved. People see them as formal even while conversing with them in written means.

While communicating with an S profile, it is important not to come on too strong in the first few conversations.

These individuals prefer taking time to build trust. They also like to warm up to meaningful conversations instead of jumping right in.

When efficient types are working with S-styles, they must keep in mind not to overlook the need for small talk. 

They must ensure to use friendly language and a warm and welcoming approach while communicating with S personalities.

4. Conscientiousness

Temperament

These personalities keep to themselves, are independent, and prefer working alone when they can stay focused.

They dislike multitasking or working in groups. Individuals with C profiles enjoy meaningful conversations about complex topics. 

Typically, they are stable and can stay resilient even during times of distress. They are excellent at connecting with people. 

Moreover, these individuals find common interests so they can discuss them in detail with the other party. With that said, they are unlikely to bring up personal stories unless prompted.

Communication Style

DiSC C profiles are objective, straightforward, and refrain from using inflection while talking. They can come across as detached and cold.

However, if you strike a conversation about something they believe or are interested in, they will engage. 

C-style individuals enjoy long, meaningful conversations and are not fond of small, directionless talk. They also love analyzing details. With that said, this trait makes them seem overly critical and even cynical.

These individuals focus too much on facts, so it is difficult to make them change their minds. They tend to view things from a black-and-white perspective. So, it can be challenging to make them see the grey areas.


DiSC Assessment Types

There are several online DISC assessments, including free DISC personality tests. However, the most commonly used tool is Everything DiSC.

Everything DiSC is a registered trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. It is a powerful assessment tool.

Further, it provides an assessment-based learning experience by measuring preferences and tendencies based on the DiSC model.

Test-takers receive personalized inputs that aid in building self and social awareness.

Consequently, it empowers them by making their workplace interactions effective and fun. The DiSC assessment measures twelve scales, each of which is outlined below.

  1. D – The Captain
  2. Di – The Initiator
  3. iD – The Optimist
  4. i – The Enthusiast 
  5. iS – The Harmonizer
  6. Si – The Counselor
  7. S – The Supporter
  8. SC – The Stabilizer
  9. CS – The Editor
  10. C – The Analyst
  11. CD – The Questioner
  12. DC – The Challenger

DiSC Behavioral Styles

The DiSC assessment currently in use goes beyond the primary four DiSC styles. It includes 12 behavioral styles.

Suppose you score extremely high only on one of the four primary types, then you are one of the four types.

For instance, a person who is independent may be a pure D style. Similarly, one whose focus primarily remains on building relationships may be an S profile. 

You must have an understanding of the four primary behavior styles. Apart from these four styles is a blend of two dimensions. Almost everyone is a mix of the four DiSC styles with varying intensities of each style. 

It is also important to keep in mind that your profiles can fluctuate based on the environment or circumstances. It can also change based on stress. No profile is inherently good, bad, or better than another.  

Further, it is imperative to know that different cultures prioritize different personality profiles.

Although environments determine people’s behaviors, everyone is a blend of the four styles. Each profile has its strengths and limitations regardless of where one lives. 

Following is a brief description of each of these blended profiles.

1. Di – Dominant and influential

This profile is also known as the Initiator. Individuals with this personality are action-oriented and continually on the lookout for new opportunities. They do not hold back from taking the more challenging paths to success.

People with this personality style fear a loss of power. As leaders, they are willing to stretch the boundaries and go the extra mile.

To be more effective, they must develop more self-awareness. They must also learn to consider others’ needs and feelings. 

2. iD – influential and Dominant

This DiSC profile is referred to as the Optimist. Their goal is to pursue novel ideas in the hope of having exciting breakthroughs.

DiSC iD styles are outgoing and task-oriented. These individuals fear stagnation, structure, and a loss of approval. 

As leaders, they are excellent at finding new opportunities and motivating people to get out of their comfort zone.

To be more efficient, they must realize that they are a part of a team. Instead of experiencing frustration with others’ slow pace, they can focus on their advantages.

3. iS – influential and Steady 

Also known as Harmonizers, individuals with an iS personality are collaborative, enthusiastic, and supportive. Given their outgoing and people-oriented nature, they focus on building friendships. They fear putting pressure on others or being disliked.

iS leaders are approachable and excellent at acknowledging people’s contributions. People with iS personalities will benefit from being more assertive.

They must learn to prioritize their workload before lending support to others.

4. Si – Steady and influential

Just like iS-styles, this personality profile is also collaborative, enthusiastic, and supportive. They are known as Counselors. These individuals value acceptance and building close relationships. They fear change as well as letting people down. 

The leadership qualities of an Si-style include building a positive environment and recognizing people’s efforts. They ensure people are credited for their success.

5. SC – Steady and Conscientious

SC personalities or Stabilizers are stable and supportive. Their goals include building calm environments, making steady progress, and being accurate.

They focus on established objectives. These individuals fear time pressure and cannot handle uncertainty or chaos.

SC-style leaders maintain composure and are cool-headed and fair-minded. They are looked up to for their determination to get their work done.

However, they can become more engaged with their peers. They can also learn to immerse themselves in new ideas.

6. CS – Conscientious and Steady

Individuals with CS styles focus on attaining stability and tangible results. Known as the Editor, a CS profile fears ambiguity. They also find emotionally charged situations challenging. 

Their leadership qualities include being modest, just, and detail-oriented. Their withdrawn nature can make them less assertive or involved when necessary. 

7. CD – Conscientious and Dominant

CD profiles are also known as Questioners. Individuals with this personality style are detail-oriented, assertive, reserved, and task-oriented. They are rational thinkers who aim for efficient results but fear losing control or failing. 

Leaders with this personality communicate with clarity. They also encourage analytical thinking.

This style can improve by recognizing their peers’ strengths and communicating more openly. They can also learn to value their time with a diverse group. 

8. DC – Dominant and Conscientious

This DiSC profile is commonly referred to as the Challenger. They are determined, results-oriented, and assertive. These individuals work toward achieving independence and personal achievement. 

DC personalities, as leaders, have high expectations and do not refrain from openly discussing problems. 

However, they must learn to slow down and pay attention to the more silent ones. They can also benefit from learning to value intangible results and long-term benefits.  


Research Behind DiSC

According to the Research Report published by Wiley, Everything DiSC is backed by over four decades of research. 

Regarding the consistency of the tool, the DiSC assessment is known to be reliable. With test-retest reliability of 0.86, it is a stable and consistent tool. This assessment is also known to have good internal consistency. 

In terms of validity, the DiSC assessment is said to measure what it purports to measure.

The researchers noted moderate positive correlations among scales that were similar or adjacent. They also observed negative correlations between opposite scales.

Therefore, the correlations among the eight types support the DiSC theory on which the assessment is based.

Further, correlations between the DiSC scales and those of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory and the 16 PF add to the tool’s validity. 


Concluding Thoughts from ThePleasantPersonality

This article must have helped you learn about DISC personality, its history, and the various types.

Moreover, DISC vs DiSC was touched upon. Adding to this, an analysis of the temperament and communication styles of each of the primary profiles was outlined. 

Further, you must have gained insights into the DiSC assessment and its advantages. Finally, the reliability and validity of the tool were discussed.

Keep in mind that no matter the personality profile you resonate with, each style has its strengths and limitations.

Understanding these will allow you to be your best version in personal and professional settings.

Article Sources


1. https://www.discprofile.com/
2. https://www.crystalknows.com/disc-personality-test
3. https://discinsights.com/