The origins of DiSC began in the early 1900’s, and was pioneered by the work of Dr. William Moulton Marston (1893 – 1947). With a PhD from Harvard in the newly developing field of psychology, Dr. Marston set out to examine the behavior of individuals in their environment, and focus on the styles and preferences of such behavior. Dr. Marston authored a book in 1928 (Emotions of Normal People) which explained his view that characteristics of behavior can be grouped into four major behavioral styles. All individuals possess all four, however certain behavioral traits from one or two of the groupings tend to be more pronounced in each individual.

Other key contributors to the DiSC model include Walter V. Clarke who was the first to take Martson’s theories and build a personality assessment. Dr. John Geier furthered the understanding of Clark’s work and developed the Personal Profile System® (PPS) in the 1970’s.

The behavioral traits are not explained in simple terms of “black and white,” rather there are blends that provide more of a “grey” when traits from less predominant styles show up in a person’s personality. The blend will likely have a primary (or stronger) type, followed by a secondary (not quite as strong) type, which allows us to understand the likely priorities (what is really important) of an individual.

Over time, DiSC has evolved to become extremely reliable and valid (see Wiley, formerly Inscape Publishing’s Research report), very easy to administer, and valuable to the end user because it is so memorable. In 2007, Wiley released the Everything DiSC® family of products, which shows a person’s behavioral priorities and tendencies in a circumplex, rather than in a graph. The questions used to generate the circumplex have been refined through careful research and beta testing. The end result is a much more intuitive and memorable presentation of the data, which allows individuals and teams to quickly understand and interpret relationships in the DiSC model, and be able to adapt their approach to improve communication in a variety of environments.

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