History of DiSC Assessments


In 1928, Williams Moulton Marston, a psychologist, wrote the book Emotions of Normal People.  In this book Marston focused on theories of emotions and how it manifested in the physical state, impacting an individual’s emotions.  Marston’s theory was that behavior can be segmented into four primary types based on the individual and the environmental factors impacting their behavior.  The four types were Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C). 

Marston didn’t actually create the DiSC personality test, however, his work influenced others to take what he theorized and create an instrument to measure personality or temperament, later known as the DiSC personality test. 

The measurement of DiSC personality assessments first occurred in the 1940s and was first created by Walter V. Clarke.  Clarke created the test for personnel assessment known as the Activity Vector Analysis.  In developing the activity vector analysis, Clarke used adjectives checklist which was used to have individuals describe their behaviors.  This research led to the identification of four behaviors (aggressive, sociable, stable and avoidant) which were very similar to Marston’s original work on human behavior.

In the 1950’s Walter Clarke Associated developed the 24 tetrads, a forced choice assessment which they called Self Discription.

In the 1970’s John Geier who worked at the University of Minnesota’s Health Sciences department used Self Discription to create the original Personal Profile System® (PPS).  Geier enhanced the initial Self Discription model by providing richer more enhanced descriptors.  His company Performax, became Inscape Publishing, which then became Wiley Learning solutions.

In the early 2000s, researchers from Wiley identified a way to represent DiSC in a circumplex model.  This allowed for ease of use and interpretation of DiSC personality results.

Over the next decade, Wiley introduced a suite of DiSC personality assessment profiles focused on Sales, Management, Leadership, Productive Conflict and improving communication in the workplace.