What is the DiSC Personality Test? An In-Depth Explanation

In the world of personality assessment, the DiSC model may not be as well known as the 16 personalities or the Big 5. However, since it gives invaluable insight into your behavioral patterns and tendencies, it is certainly worthwhile to find out what the DiSC personality test is and how it works.

If you’re curious, look no further—this article will explain precisely what the DiSC personality assessment is, how it should be interpreted, and when it is used.

So, let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • The DiSC personality test is a psychological tool that describes and classifies human behavior along the bold/cautious and questioning/accepting axes.
  • As a result, there are four distinct DiSC personality styles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.
  • The DiSC personality test is often used in professional settings, usually for assessing potential job candidates or forming effective teams to work on specific projects.
  • William Moulton Marston was the original creator of the DiSC personality theory, but the test itself was developed by psychologist Walter V. Clarke several years after Marston’s death.

What is the DiSC Personality Test?

What is the DiSC Personality Test?

Retrieved from: careeraddict.com

The DiSC personality test is a type of psychological assessment that classifies human behavior along two axes, which combine to create four distinct personality styles. Each style bears the name of its defining trait: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

To identify your personality type, the DiSC personality test first determines where you land on both behavioral axes. The first one, called bold/cautious, describes how you perceive yourself in relation to the world, while the second one, dubbed questioning/accepting, shows how you view your surroundings.

For example, people on the bold end of the scale believe they have the power to affect their surroundings and are, therefore, more likely to take an active approach to life. Their cautious counterparts, on the other hand, feel significantly less powerful and choose to adapt to the world rather than change it.

Similarly, those with questioning tendencies perceive their environments as generally untrustworthy and antagonistic, while accepting types believe the world has their best interests at heart. As a result, the former group is skeptical and doubtful, while the latter is warm, open, and gentle.

Ultimately, the DiSC personality test tells you about your behavioral tendencies and your strengths and weaknesses, which can be useful in various professional and personal settings.

DiSC Personality Test Applications

The DiSC personality test can be used for various purposes, but it’s most frequently administered in professional settings, such as job orientations or candidate assessments.

That’s because each of the four DiSC personality types possesses traits that are in demand in specific professions. As a result, the test can serve as an excellent tool for guiding people toward suitable careers and helping them understand which ones aren’t the right fit.

For instance, a study by Qurratul Aini from the Muhammadiyah University of Yogyakarta revealed that most nurses score high on Steadiness. Consequently, people with similar behavioral tendencies should consider a job in the nursing or medical fields.

Aside from professional orientation, the DiSC personality test helps managers build effective teams by showing them their employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Once they know everyone’s types, matching people who complement each other and make up for one another’s shortcomings is much less of a hassle.

How Does the DiSC Assessment Work?

The DiSC assessment works similarly to other personality tests—you’re asked to assess yourself by marking which statements you agree and disagree with. Although there are many variations of this personality test, the gist remains largely the same, as do the questions.

Once you complete the test, your result is represented on the DiSC personality chart, which is in the form of a circle divided into four sections by two intersecting lines.

These two lines are the two aforementioned axes—the vertical line is the bold/cautious axis, while the horizontal line is the questioning/accepting axis. Together, they create four quadrants corresponding to four basic DiSC personalities.

Each DiSC personality is defined by the traits that dominate the ends of both axes that form its quadrant. For example, the Steadiness quadrant is bordered by cautious and accepting parts of the two axes, so this personality type is calm, gentle, empathetic, and warm.

Aside from the axes, the circle plays an important part in defining your DiSC style. Namely, it symbolizes the fluid nature of personality, which can’t be uniform even within the same type.

So, people with results closer to the center of the circle are less tied to their own quadrant and have an easier time adopting other traits. On the other hand, those who are closer to the edges tend to have pronounced characteristics of their own type.

Is the DiSC Personality Test Accurate?

The DiSC personality test is pretty accurate, judging from the numerous validity studies conducted on it. In fact, Dr. Larry A. Price from Texas State University concluded in his report that this psychometric tool is reliable and internally consistent.

However, that doesn’t mean it should be used as a diagnostic tool in clinical settings. Instead, the DiSC personality test is only valid for informal assessments that help you gain a better understanding of yourself and other people.

DiSC Personality Test Types

The four DiSC personality test types are named after their defining traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. However, that alone is only the surface—there’s a lot more to each of these personality styles.

In the following section, we delve deeper into each type and explore their characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses:

#1. D Personality

The Dominance or D personality type is found in the bold and questioning quadrant, so it’s characterized by an assertive, confident approach and a goal-oriented nature. These types are often described as:

  • Direct
  • Active
  • Tough
  • Ambitious
  • Fast-paced
  • Demanding
  • Determined
  • Strong-willed

As a result, D types often find themselves in leadership positions where they can use their natural traits to drive progress and inspire others to give their best.

However, D personalities can also be overly aggressive, intense, and intimidating, entirely disregarding other people’s feelings and needs. For them, getting the job done is crucial—how they get there tends to be less important. This approach can be overbearing to those around them, particularly the more sensitive types.

Although DiSC and 16 personality types don’t have a direct correlation, we can compare the D style to ENTJ or ESTJ personalities. These two types have similar tendencies, with a highly goal-driven approach to life and a somewhat dismissive attitude toward feelings.

Furthermore, the Dominance style is divided into three subtypes:




The prototype of the Dominance style that possesses all the stereotypical characteristics associated with it

A blend of Dominance and Influence with a friendlier, more enthusiastic disposition

A mix of Dominance and Conscientiousness, characterized by an analytical and perfectionistic nature

#2. I Personality

The Influence, or I personality type, is just as bold as the D type but far friendlier and more accepting. Generally speaking, people with this behavioral style are charming and gregarious, making connections wherever they go.

The following traits are usually associated with I types:

  • Warm
  • Trusting
  • Sociable
  • Energetic
  • Emotional
  • Persuasive
  • Enthusiastic
  • Adventurous

As true social butterflies, these individuals are fun to be around and know exactly what to say or do to make everyone feel comfortable and accepted.

Still, I types are by no means perfect. They tend to be overly dependent on others’ opinions, constantly worrying about the impression they leave on those around them. This can turn them into people-pleasers and affect their willingness to share their genuine thoughts with others.

Though the I style can correlate with several extroverted types in the 16 personalities theory, it shares significant similarities with ENFJs and ESFJs. Both of these types are very social and characterized by the desire to influence others and help them become the best versions of themselves.

Like the D type, the Influence style is also divided into three subtypes:




The prototype of the Influence style that possesses all the stereotypical characteristics associated with it

A blend of Influence and Dominance that is more assertive, confident, and ambitious than other I types

A mix of Influence and Steadiness with a calmer, gentler, and more empathetic nature

#3. S Personality

The S personality, otherwise known as the Steadiness type, values stability, harmony, and peace. Unlike the two personalities in the bold quadrants, S types are cautious, mild, and even-tempered, often willing to sacrifice their own comfort for others’ needs.

Here are some characteristics often found in S personalities:

  • Calm
  • Loyal
  • Warm
  • Gentle
  • Friendly
  • Empathetic
  • Dependable
  • Cooperative

As a result, S types often play mediator or peacemaker roles, both in professional settings and in their personal lives.

However, their kind nature can be draining, as they constantly worry about other people’s feelings. This may cause them to neglect their own needs and quickly become burned out by social interactions.

Generally speaking, the S style has plenty in common with the “feeling introverts” of 16 personalities. However, it particularly correlates with INFJ and ISFJ types, who have a similar tendency to care for others more than themselves and prioritize their loved ones’ comfort.

Steadiness personalities consist of the following three subtypes:




The prototype of the Steadiness style that possesses all the stereotypical characteristics associated with it

A blend of Steadiness and Influence characterized by a more lively and energetic approach to life

A mix of Steadiness and Conscientiousness that possesses a more analytical, reflective nature

#4. C Personality

Finally, the C, or Conscientiousness type, inhabits the cautious and questioning quadrant, so people with this behavioral style are responsible, dutiful, and thorough. Due to their analytical nature, they can come across as aloof or cold, though they are caring in their own way.

C types are often described as:

  • Stable
  • Logical
  • Objective
  • Reserved
  • Dedicated
  • Disciplined
  • Restrained
  • Systematic

As a result, Conscientiousness types are excellent advisors and can be relied upon for sincere, objective feedback. They are also natural problem solvers, as they are able to examine the situation from various angles and quickly devise the most effective approach to achieving the desired outcome.

However, their reserved and no-nonsense nature can be off-putting to gentler and more laid-back types. For instance, S and I types seek connection and emotional bonding, and C personalities might not be fully equipped to handle that.

In essence, C types resemble thinking introverts of 16 personalities—perhaps INTJs and INTPs in particular. These two types are known to be as reserved, logical, and objective as the C style of DiSC personality assessment.

People with the Conscientiousness style can belong to one of the three subtypes:




The prototype of the Conscientiousness style that possesses all the stereotypical characteristics associated with it

A blend of Conscientiousness and Steadiness that is warmer, gentler, and more empathetic than other C subtypes

A mix of Conscientiousness and Dominance with a more confident and ambitious disposition

History of the DiSC Personality Test

The history of the DiSC personality test begins with William Moulton Marston, an American psychologist and comic book writer who created the Wonder Woman character. One of Marston’s many interests was classifying people according to their behavior, which inspired him to develop the DiSC theory.

Initially, he presented his thoughts in the 1928 book Emotions of Normal People, where he elaborated on four behavioral styles he dubbed Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance.

In some respects, these styles resembled Galen’s four fundamental temperaments outlined over a thousand years ago: choleric (D type), sanguine (I type), phlegmatic (S type), and melancholic (C type). However, it’s difficult to say whether this theory truly inspired Marston.

Although Marston was the original creator of the DiSC theory, he didn’t actually develop the DiSC personality test. That happened in the 1950s, after his death, thanks to psychologist Walter V. Clarke.

The first DiSC personality test was very simple—it consisted of yes-or-no questions and tasks that asked the participants to choose adjectives that best described them. Then, according to their answers, they’d be sorted into one of the four categories.

However, the test was modernized with time and became more complex, introducing new types of questions and more intricate results. In addition, three personality styles changed names: Inducement became known as Influence, Submission as Steadiness, and Compliance as Conscientiousness.

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand what the DiSC personality test is, you can use it to understand your personality and behavioral tendencies better. The DiSC model gives you an insight into your relationship with your surroundings, which can be particularly useful in professional settings.

If you want to explore your personality in more depth, combine the DiSC tool with the 16 personalities test. Together, these two tests will paint a fuller picture of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your tendencies and behavioral patterns.

What is the DiSC Personality Test FAQ

#1. What is the DiSC personality test used for?

The DiSC personality test is used to analyze and categorize behavior, which is particularly helpful in professional settings. In fact, companies often administer the DiSC test to prospective job candidates to see if they are a good fit or to their employees when attempting to build an effective team.

#2. What is the DiSC personality test style?

The DiSC personality test style is another name for DiSC personality types, which include D (Dominance), I (Influence), S (Steadiness), and C (Conscientiousness). Each of these four basic styles has three subtypes: a pure one and two subtypes with traits influenced by neighboring types.

#3. What is the rarest DiSC personality type?

The rarest DiSC personality type is Dominance, found in only 9% of the population. The other DiSC styles are far more common: 28% of all test takers identify with Influence, 32% with Steadiness, and 31% with Conscientiousness.

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