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True or false? Dispelling some common myths about DISC.

You may have noticed that are a number of different ways that you can take a DISC assessment, ranging from tools by respected publishers through to freebies you may find on the internet. Whatever tool you choose, if it's underpinned by William Moulton Marston's original research and theories you will find that it is broadly based on the same model describing four basic styles: D, i, S & C. However, there are a lot of myths and misunderstanding out there about DiSC and here we are going to try and dispel some of those.

Firstly, a question we are often asked. Why the small i? It's simply a copyright issue - when you see the small i you can rest assured that it's an instrument from Wiley, the publishers of Everything DiSC®.

Doesn't DiSC only measure behaviour and not personality?

Not true. Based on a definition of personality that is "enduring patterns of emotions, thoughts and behaviours across a variety of situations" then DISC does measure some aspects of personality.

An overview of the 4 DiSC styles
An overview of the 4 DiSC styles

There is an overlap between DiSC and MBTI®

This is true! There is overlap on two of the MBTI scales - a strong correlation between Introvert/Extrovert and a moderate correlation between Thinking/Feeling. However, DISC measures one scale that MBTI does not - the D/S scale, traditionally referred to as Dominance/Submissive, which is core to interpersonal relationships.

DiSC styles often change substantially over time

Our research shows that it actually doesn't change very much. Whilst some individuals may see a meaningful change, the average change we see is just 12 degrees. This means that you may see a change into the sectors either side of your result but it is rare that it changes any more dramatically.

DiSC does not measure your natural and adaptive styles

Not so. It used to be said that people had different styles at work and home (natural and adaptive). Since DiSC is a measure of energy, when people take the assessment they are asked to think of their behaviour that are most typical and natural across a variety of different situations. Whilst a different context may pull out a different parts of someone's personality, this is more to do with the amount of energy we use to accomplish different tasks and in different situations.

How does DiSC vary across the population?

The instrument is normed to return an equal number of people in each style. This question is similar to asking how many tall people are there in the population? Your answer will vary depending on your own point of reference as to what you consider to be tall. In the same way if someone has a S style, it doesn't mean they lack all the dominant characteristics of the D style, just that they have less than the reference group.

Is there a difference between DiSC styles and gender?

Our research shows that knowing someone's gender tells us next to nothing about what their DiSC style may be. The statistics are so small as to be statistically meaningless.

Are certain DiSC styles better at certain jobs?

This is an interesting one, and often asked. Because everyone is a blend of all styles there is no correlation between a person's DiSC style and their competence in their role. However, since DiSC measures the amount of energy it takes to use our own style, and stretch into others, it may be that people are attracted to roles where they feel most comfortable. For example, you would expect people working in an accounts office to have a tendency towards the C style where they can use their priority of accuracy. However, this doesn't mean they are any better at the job than other styles .... it's no measure of competence and it's for this reason that Everything DiSC is not recommended as a tool for recruitment.

Hopefully, some of these explanations have dispelled some common myths around DISC, what it measures and its uses. If you have any questions or would like further explanation about any of these topics, you're very welcome to get in touch. If you are really interested in the research that sits behind DiSC, then there is a full copy of the Research Report available on our website.

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