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DISC assessment is a personality assessment tool based on the DISC personality theory of psychologist William Marston. Marston's theory centers around four different personality traits: Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance. This theory was then developed into a personality assessment tool (personality profile test) by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke (July 26, 1905 - Jan. 1, 1978). The version used today was developed from the original assessment by John Geier, who simplified the test for better, more concise results.
William Moulton Marston was an accomplished man who was not only a lawyer and a physiological psychologist; he also produced the first functional lie detector polygraph, authored self-help books and created the Wonder Woman comic. His major contribution to psychology came when he generated the DISC characteristics of emotions and behavior of normal people. Marston, after conducting research on human emotions, published his findings in 1928 in his book titled Emotions of Normal People. In this book, he explained his theory that people illustrate their emotions through behavior using the four behavior types called Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C). Also, he argued that these behavioral types came from people’s sense of self and their interaction with the environment. He included two dimensions that influenced people’s emotional behavior. The first dimension is whether a person views his environment as favorable or unfavorable. The second dimension is whether a person perceives himself as having control or lack of control over his environment. Dominance: Perceives oneself as more powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as unfavorable. Inducement: Perceives oneself as more powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as favorable. Submission: Perceives oneself as less powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as favorable. Compliance: Perceives oneself as less powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as unfavorable. Although William Moulton Marston contributed to the creation of the DISC Assessment, he did not create it or even intend to use DISC as an assessment. In 1956, Walter Clarke, an industrial psychologist, was able to accidentally construct the DISC assessment using William Moulton Marston’s theory of the DISC model. He accomplished this by publishing the Activity Vector Analysis, a checklist of adjectives on which he asked people to indicate descriptions that were accurate about themselves. This assessment was intended for use in businesses needing assistance in choosing qualified employees. His assessment was later amended by Walter Clarke Associates and called a self-description. Also, it no longer required a checklist. Instead, test takers choose from two or more terms. Even with all of William Moulton Marston's and Walter Clarke's developments, the DISC assessment still had further developments to undertake. John Greier contributed to this assessment by producing the DISC personality profile in 1958 based on the works of Marston and Clarke. Greier conducted hundreds of clinical interviews which assisted him to further progress the fifteen patterns which Walter Clarke had exposed. Since then a number of publishers have updated and/or generated their own versions of the DISC assessment. These have had varying degrees of validity and reliability.
The DISC assessment can be used for a variety of real-life situations. Many companies use it as a way to screen potential employees, with the thought that a certain personality type would be better or worse in certain jobs or positions.
It can also be used in an educational environment, especially in the development of courses for student. In an online setting, the results from the DISC assessment can be used to better understand the personality and needs of the students. This is especially important because the online setting does not allow for a lot of interaction between the students or teachers. Instructors can use the data from the test to create better lessons that are more conducive to the various students, in addition to having a better concept of how to help or motivate the student in general. Furthermore, one study showed that students' DISC temperament or type helped determine their success in certain classes, which shows the influence one's DISC classification could have on his or her education.
Another field in which DISC assessment can be used is leadership. There are different leadership methods and styles that coincide with each personality type, which could help leaders be more effective. DISC has also been used to help determine a course of action when dealing with problems as a leadership team—that is, taking the various aspects of each type into account when solving problems or assigning jobs.
The assessments classify four aspects of behavior by testing a person's preferences in word associations. DISC is an acronym for:
These four dimensions can be grouped in a grid with "D" and "I" sharing the top row and representing extroverted aspects of the personality, and "C" and "S" below representing introverted aspects. "D" and "C" then share the left column and represent task-focused aspects, and "I" and "S" share the right column and represent social aspects. In this matrix, the vertical dimension represents a factor of "Assertive" or "Passive", while the horizontal dimension represents "Open" vs. "Guarded".
The DISC assessment tool is used to identify 15 patterns: