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This article explains the DISC Personality Test by William Moulton Marston in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful communication skills and effectiveness tool.
What is the DISC personality test?
Why do some people dislike change and why do others welcome it in their lives? Why do some people lead and why do other people follow rather than lead? These are just some questions that can be answered by using the DISC Personality Test. The DISC Personality Test is a personality profile test. This behavioural test was developed by the psychologist William Moulton Marston. By using the DISC Personality Test people will get a thorough understanding of their own personality and that of other people. The DISC Personality Test was independently studied by different universities and was found to have a reliability of 90%.
The letters represent four personality styles that are also referred to as temperaments: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. The DISC Personality Test provides insights into behaviour and the differences between individuals. It also highlights how their needs influence their behaviour. Each person favours one temperament but different personality styles are possible too. The DISC personality test arranges the types as two pairs of opposites. On the one hand we have Direct versus Indirect and on the other hand we have Task Oriented versus People Oriented.
Direct – Indirect
A three step-process will identify someone’s temperament. Step 1 establishes whether someone is direct or indirect. People are direct when they initiate conversation, talk loudly and clearly, take initiative, are agile and restless and are clearly present. Indirect people are thoughtful, wait until someone else takes the initiative, are soft spoken, move quietly and have a low profile.
Task-oriented – People- oriented
Step 2 assesses whether someone is task-oriented or people-oriented. Task-oriented behaviour is characterized by focusing on tasks and processes. A task-oriented person requires knowledge, facts and reasons and likes to engage in discussions. They take decisions based on facts. People-oriented behaviour on the other hand is characterized by the fact that someone wants to have good contact with other people and that this person is harmonious and avoids discussions or conflicts. They make decisions based on emotions.
Step three combines the results of step 1 and 2. This produces one of the DISC temperaments.
Direct + Task-oriented = Dominant
This is characterized by assertive behaviour, result-mindedness, speaking loudly, taking risks and an air of impatience.
Direct + People- Oriented = Interactive
This means that someone is enthusiastic, positive and optimistic. They are in for new ideas and are sensitive to trends. They are high-paced workers and have an intense way of talking. They involve their emotions in decision-making.
Indirect + People-Oriented = Stable
This person is a listener, has a friendly appearance, is polite, service-minded and modest. They are loyal and will postpone their decisions.
Indirect + Task-oriented = Conscientious
This means that someone is factual, somewhat distant and formal, needs extensive information and is non-expressive at times. They want guarantees and make decisions based on facts and results. They are often analytical thinkers.
The DISC Personality Test can be used for various reasons: from personal development and leadership training to recruitment & selection and profile reports. Using the knowledge obtained from the DISC personality test, people will have a better understanding of their own actions, that of their colleagues and customers, as a result of which people will understand one another better. They will meet each other’s personal needs more, so that conflicts can be avoided or reduced. This provides a basis for trust and effective cooperation.
It’s Your Turn
What do you think? Is the DISC Personality Test still applicable in today’s modern companies? And if so, how do you use it and what are the general results? Are there still four personality styles or are there new ones?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Slowikowski, M. K. (2005). Using the DISC behavioral instrument to guide leadership and communication. AORN journal, 82(5), 835-843.
- De Jonge, J., & Dormann, C. (2003). The DISC model: Demand-induced strain compensation mechanisms in job stress. Occupational stress in the service professions, 43-74.
- Merloni, A., Fabian, A. C., & Ross, R. R. (2000). On the interpretation of the multicolour disc model for black hole candidates. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 313(1), 193-197.
- Marston, W. M. (2013). Emotions of Normal People. Cooper Press.
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