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 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.
Today it is represented as D i S C
Within dominance, the priorities are all around getting immediate results. To get these results, action is taken whenever needed. Someone with a high level of dominance also knows how to challenge themselves as well as other people. They are motivated by power and authority, competition, winning and success. They fear loss of control, being taken advantage of and vulnerability. They may appear to be insensitive, impatient and have a lack of concern for others. You will notice self-confidence, decisiveness, directness, forcefulness and risk-taking.
Within influence, the priorities are all about influencing other people. They prioritize expressing enthusiasm, taking action, and encouraging collaboration. They are motivated by social recognition, group activities, and personal relationships. They fear social rejection, disapproval, loss of influence and being ignored by others. They may appear to be totally disorganized, impulsive and lacking of follow-through. You will notice enthusiasm, optimism, sociability and charm.
With steadiness, it is all about cooperation with other people and dealing with existing circumstances. They prioritize giving support, maintaining stability and enjoying collaboration. People with high steadiness are generally very patient and great team players. They are motivated by stable environments, sincere appreciation, cooperation and opportunities to help. They fear a loss of stability, change, loss of harmony and offending others. They may appear to be indecisive, overly accommodating and have a tendency to avoid change. You will notice a calm and methodical approach, patience, stability, a good listener and humility.
Within conscientiousness, it is all about quality and accuracy. They prioritize challenging assumptions, thinking analytically, maintaining stability and ensuring accuracy. They are motivated by attention to quality and detail, opportunities to use their expertise and clearly defined performance expectations. They fear criticism of their work, slipshod methods, and being wrong. They may appear to be overly critical of themselves and others, indecisive because of desire to collect and analyze data and isolated. You will notice precision, analysis and behavior that is cautious, diplomatic, reserved, and quiet.
Marston himself had little interest in theoretical concepts of personality or temperament. Thus, he never created a psychological instrument to measure his model. The contemporary understanding of DiSC maintains some of the core principles advanced by Marston, but the current presentation of the model also incorporates many additions and changes that are informed by advances in psychological measurement and theory.