DiSC Timeline

Explore the history of the DISC theory and how it led to the most accurate suite of DiSC assessments available: Everything DiSC.

1928

Emotions of Normal People

The DISC model of behavior was first proposed in 1928 by William Moulton Marston, a physiological psychologist, in a book entitled “Emotions of Normal People.” Like many psychologists of his time, Marston made a deliberate decision to focus only on psychological phenomena that were directly observable and measurable through objective means. His primary interest was in theories of emotions and the physical manifestations of emotional states. From his careful 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 his or her 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.

The first dimension was the person’s perception of the environment; specifically, whether it was seen as favorable or unfavorable. The second dimension was the person’s perception of their own power within the environment; specifically, whether they viewed themselves as more powerful or less powerful than the environment. Combined into one model, these two dimensions give rise to the four DISC behavioral types (or styles) we use today.

1928

1940

Early Measurements: Activity Vector Analysis

Walter Clarke develops an adjective checklist, used in personnel selection, called the Activity Vector Analysis using  items from the work done by Odbert, Allport and Goldberg who compiled and revised the comprehensive list of stable personality traits

He asked participants to complete the checklist twice, the first time responding by checking “any words I have heard others use to describe me,” and the second time responding by checking “any words that I feel honestly describe me.”

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.

1940

1950

Early DISC: Self-Discription Instrument

John Cleaver, an associate of Walter Clarke, develops a DISC questionnaire (called Self Discription) referred to as a 24 tetrad, forced-choice questionnaire.

The reason the questionnaire was designed like this was to reduce the social bias. By subtracting the least scores from the most scores the tendency to respond with more socially desirable answers was minimized, and that showed up as increased reliability on Graph III.

Probably due to his work with Cleaver, he labels the “most” graph How Others See Me and the “least” graph The Real Me or Behavior Under Pressure. There was no research behind these labels.

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 instrument could be created.

1950

1970

First DiSC® Assessment

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).  His company was called Performax.

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.

A typo (lower case i) on a batch of profiles becomes a registered trademark.

1970

1994

28 Question System

The Personal Profile System® is re-validated and called Personal Profile System 2800. The assessment significantly reduce the number of N’s (Non-Scored Items) in the profile. In the 24 item assessment there were 44 N’s, and it was not unusual for a respondent to have up to 6 N’s on the most or least scale. If you had 6, that meant that 25 percent of your answers did not count towards your profile.

The new assessment had 14 N’s.

The earlier number of N’s in the profile also contributed to much lower levels of internal reliability, and also contributed to people getting very different results between Graph I and Graph II.

1994

2000

Research into Circumplex Model Begins

DiSC Indra® becomes the first application of the mathematical rules of a circumplex to DiSC.

In its optimal form, the DiSC Model would most likely be a circumplex. Comparing Marston’s two underlying axes of perceived Power relative to one’s environment and perceived Favorability of the environment to Interpersonal Theory’s two axes of Power and Affiliation, striking similarities appear.

First, the comparison between the two Power axes is relatively straightforward. Second, it takes a small inference to go from perception of the environment’s Favorability to whether one tends to Affiliate or Detach with one’s environment. It is likely that the choice to Affiliate or Detach is preceded by one’s perception of whether the environment is Favorable. Thus, it is a natural response to detach from others if you see the environment as antagonistic or unfavorable, just as it is natural to affiliate with others if you see the environment as favorable.

2000

2007

First Everything DiSC Report (Sales)

The first Everything DiSC® application to take advantage of computerized circumplex reporting was Everything DiSC® Sales. Instead of a line graph or bar graph, this profile presented the participant’s DiSC style with the circumplex DiSC map, but in a bit simpler form than Indra.

Also, this profile was the first in the Application Library.  It focused on helping the learner understand the relevance of his or her DiSC style to a particular role, or context, 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

It is also the first to include a comparison report by using the profile information in conjunction with a People-Reading process to create a Customer Interaction Map giving the sales person tips on how to create a positive relationship with a customer.

2007

2008

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
  • Motivation
  • Developing Others
  • Working with Your Manager

During this time of development the first 1:1 Comparison Reports were tested.

2008

2009

Everything DiSC Workplace®

The third Everything DiSC application to be launched was Everything DiSC Workplace®. This profile is designed for use by a wide range of participants, regardless of their role in the organization. The report contains three broad sections:

  • Discover Your DiSC Style
  • Understanding Other Styles
  • Building More Effective Relationships

At the same time, Everything DiSC Comparison Reports were launched. These reports allowed for two people to compare themselves on not only their DiSC style, but also on a series of basic personality traits, such as careful vs. daring or skeptical vs. accepting.

2009

2010

Everything DiSC 363® for Leaders

Drawing on three years of research, the Everything DiSC 363® for Leaders profile was launched. This is a 360 assessment that uses the DiSC model as a backdrop. In the assessment, observers are asked to evaluate a leader on 24 behaviors, such as finding opportunities or showing diplomacy.

Named “363” because the final report provides three personalized action items based on rater feedback.

Another innovation – CommentSmart.  Taking the sting out of the comment feature of traditional 360 assessments, this feature of DiSC 363 provides raters with pre-written, constructive comments to select based on the item and the type of response.

A companion book, The 8 Dimensions of Leadership, is published.

2010

2011

Everything DiSC Work of Leaders®

Based on extensive research, this report splits the work of leaders into three categories: Vision, Alignment, and Execution. Using self-ratings of 18 different traits, participants are taught why some leadership behaviors come naturally to them and others require more deliberate effort.

A companion book, The Work of Leaders, is published.

2011

2012

Implementation of Adaptive Testing

Adaptive testing allows an assessment to change depending on a respondent’s previous answers. This is useful in cases where the results of a standard assessment are inconclusive. In these instances, the Everything DiSC assessment will ask the respondent additional questions to reduce ambiguity in their results. Adaptive testing is the latest improvement to increase the accuracy of the Everything DiSC assessment and make the feedback more personalized and relevant for users.

2012

2017

Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict

Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict was launched to provide learners with a tool to improve self-awareness around conflict behaviors. Rather than focusing on conflict resolution, Everything DiSC Productive Conflict helps participants curb destructive thoughts and behaviors so that conflict can become more productive, ultimately improving workplace results and relationships. The report contains three parts:

  • DiSC® in Conflict
  • Destructive Responses
  • Changing Your Response
2017

2019

Looking towards the future…

Innovation continues with a powerful iterative process of beta-testing new concepts and applications designed to help organizations of all kinds DiSCOVER THE POWER OF WE™

2019

Begin your DiSC Journey

Learn more about yourself and how you can build deeper relationships with those around you. Explore the Everything DiSC Workplace profile.

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