This History of Everything DiSC®
DiSC has a long-standing history rooted in psychology and research. Since the 1920s, the DiSC model has evolved and expanded into a multi-faceted learning solution designed to deliver personalized insights that foster engagement and collaboration in today’s ever-changing workplace. Take a journey back in time and learn about the landmark events that have helped shape what Everything DiSC is today.
Emotions of Normal People The DiSC® Model of Behaviors.
It was first proposed in 1928 by William Moulton Marston, a physiological psychologist, in his book Emotions of Normal People. Marston made a deliberate decision to focus only on psychological phenomena that were directly observable and measurable through objective means. From his research, Marston theorized that the behavioral expression of emotions could be categorized into four primary types, stemming from the person’s perceptions of self in relationship to their environment. These four types were labeled by Marston as Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C). He created a model that integrated these four types of emotional expression into a two-dimensional, two-axis space. Because Marston himself had little interest in theoretical concepts of personality or temperament, he never created a psychological instrument to measure his model. The contemporary understanding of DiSC maintains some of the core principles advanced by Marston, but the current presentation of the model also incorporates many additions and changes that are informed by advances in psychological measurement and theory.
Early Measurement of DiSC Concepts:
Activity Vector Analysis
The history of DiSC measurement begins in the 1940s with industrial psychologist, Walter V. Clarke. Clarke built a test for personnel selection called the Activity Vector Analysis. Following the “lexical approach” that was popular at that time, Clarke identified a list of adjectives that were commonly used in describing others. He collected information on the adjectives using a checklist format, and asked participants to check the specific words that describe them. After collecting and analyzing the data on this instrument, he discovered that the four factors produced from the data (aggressive, sociable, stable, and avoidant) sounded a lot like DiSC. Clarke concluded that the data could be best explained by Marston’s model of human behavior.
Early Measurement of DiSC Concepts: Self-Discription Instrument
A staff member of Walter Clarke Associates developed an
assessment for John Cleaver, which they called Self Discription.
It began like the Activity Vector Analysis as an adjective
checklist, but evolved into a 24 tetrad, forced-choice instrument.
Factor analyses of the Self Discription produced two factors that
closely approximated the underlying axes of Marston’s model,
lending considerable empirical support not only to the structure
of the model he proposed, but to Clarke’s earlier claim that a
DiSC®-based instruments could be created.
First DiSC Assessment: Personal Profile System® (PPS)
In the 1970s, John Geier, a faculty member in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Health Sciences, used Self Discription to create the original Personal Profile System® (PPS). He formed a company called Performax (which eventually became Inscape Publishing and is now the Workplace Learning Solutions Group at Wiley) that was the first publisher of a DiSC assessment. Since the PPS used the same 24 tetrads and items that appeared in the original Self Discription, Geier’s main contribution was not so much in the area of instrument development, but in furthering the understanding of the 15 basic patterns discovered by Clarke. Geier collected pattern descriptions through clinical interviews with hundreds of people. By extracting behavioral information from those interviews, he provided richer descriptions of these 15 patterns that had come to be known as the Classical Profile Patterns.
28-Box Personal Profile System
A research effort was launched to improve the DiSC instrument that had basically remained unchanged since 1959. New items were added, non-functioning items were removed, and the overall reliability of the instrument increased. The new PPS was named the Personal Profile System 2800 Series (PPS 2800), referring to the new number of tetrads (28). First published in 1994, this version of the PPS is still used today, although it has since been renamed DiSC Classic®.
Research into the Circumplex Representation of DiSC®
In the early 2000s, researchers associated with Wiley’s Workplace Learning Solutions Group (called Inscape at the time) began experimenting with ways to represent DiSC® with a circumplex model instead of with a line graph model. Here, a person’s DiSC style was represented with a dot within the DiSC map. The advantage of this representation was ease of interpretation and application. Researchers discovered that this circumplex approach to measuring and presenting DiSC shared substantial overlap with the Interpersonal Circumplex theory in academic psychological research. Drawing on this research and theory, the Everything DiSC® series of reports was developed as it exists today.
Everything DiSC® Sales
The first Everything DiSC application to be launched was Everything DiSC Sales. This profile presented the participant's DiSC style using the circumplex DiSC map. Unlike the PPS, this profile focused on helping the learner understand the relevance of his or her DiSC style to a particular role within the organization. This report contains three broad sections:
• Understanding Your DiSC Sales Style
• Understanding Customer Buying Styles
• Adapting Your Sales Style to Your Customer's Buying Style.
Everything DiSC® Management
The second Everything DiSC application to be launched was Everything DiSC Management. This profile is designed to help managers understand their own DiSC styles as well as the styles of the people they manage. Further, it helps managers bridge the gaps when there are style differences. The report contains five broad sections:
• Your DiSC Management Style
• Directing and Delegating
• Developing Others
• Working with Your Manager
Everything DiSC Workplace® and Everything DiSC® Comparison Report