With so many myths and misconceptions about DISC and other personality profiling tools all over the internet, it’s no surprise that people are confused. Don’t worry – we’ve put together this helpful guide to dispel all the common myths about DISC. 

A brief history of DISC

First proposed by psychologist William Moulton Marston in his 1928 book Emotions of Normal People, the DISC model is a way of describing the various behavioural styles of different people. He argued that people’s personalities could be categorised based on how they perceive themselves and interact with the environment. Marston’s original DISC model proposed four categories of behaviour: Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance, although subsequent theorists have slightly changed the names of these key categories. 

Side note: the DISC model wasn’t Marston’s only contribution to the world. A famous American psychologist, Marston also invented an early lie detector device and was the creator of the comic book character Wonder Woman. Talk about a man of many talents!

The first assessment based on DISC theory was created by industrial psychologist Walter Clarke in 1956. This was the forerunner of the modern DISC assessment which is used by millions of people around the world each year. 

How the DISC assessment works

The DISC assessment works by asking participants to take a short questionnaire. Instead of answering questions, the individual has the task of selecting the statements that are most and least relevant to them. The results identify the main category or categories that describe their behavioural style. 

The four main DISC profiles are as follows:

  • Dominance: people with the Dominance DISC type are competitive and ambitious, shaping the environment they are in to achieve success.
  • Influence: energetic and optimistic, individuals with the Influence personality are people-oriented and great at negotiating or motivating.
  • Steadiness: stable and easy going, individuals with the Steadiness profile are good team players who are active listeners and dependable workers.
  • Compliance: meticulous and logical, a person with the Compliance DISC style values accuracy in their work and extensive research before they make decisions.

Note: many people fall into multiple of the DISC profiles, so a person might be a mix of Steadiness and Compliance or Dominance and Influence. 

Now we’ve summarised the key points of DISC, it’s time to bust some myths about the DISC assessment and personality assessments in general. 

Myth #1: Personality assessments are just for hiring

Fact: Personality assessments like DISC are actually more useful for current employees than job applicants. 

The idea that personality assessments are only used in hiring is a misconception. Yes, many people have completed a Myers-Briggs or Five-Factor personality test at some point during a job application, but this doesn’t mean that this is the only time personality assessments can be used.

Using assessments like DISC with current employees is the best option for multiple reasons. First of all, DISC profiling is a great way for teams and managers to learn how best to work together, communicate, and resolve conflict in the workplace. It’s especially valuable for employees in leadership positions or those who show potential for future promotion because it can help them improve their vital communication and leadership skills.

Providing current employees with DISC assessments and training means investing in their personal and career growth, helping unlock their potential. A workplace that uses DISC is one where self-knowledge and coaching are encouraged to help each person become the best version of themselves and do their best work.

Not to mention, using DISC with current employees is far more cost-effective than paying for hundreds of job applicants to be assessed for a single role!

Overall, while it’s certainly possible in theory to use DISC in hiring to help you evaluate how a particular personality will fit into a team, this isn’t the only time that DISC profiling is useful. 

Myth #2: There is only one DISC assessment

Fact: There are a range of different assessments and not all DISCs are made equal.

Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions we encounter is the idea that there is only one version of the DISC personality assessment. While all DISC assessments are based on the theories put forward by William Moulton Marston and most use a similar questionnaire, there are differences between each approach. 

For example, here at DISC Group we use the DISC Flow® model. This is an advanced model that enhances the theory of DISC with the power of emotional intelligence for a more effective and holistic approach. With DISC Flow® it’s easy to turn insights into action. 

If you’re thinking of using DISC in your organisation, it’s worth checking the types of DISC assessment that different vendors use. Each different company uses different formulae and terminology, so instead of ‘Compliance’ you may see ‘Conscientiousness’ or instead of ‘Steadiness’ you may see ‘Submissiveness’. 

Keep in mind that the validity and reliability of the different assessments can vary, so it’s important to do your research before selecting a DISC profile vendor. 

Myth #3: Personality tests are not reliable 

Fact: While many of the available personality tests on the market are not reliable, DISC assessments have a high reliability. 

It’s no surprise that many people dismiss all personality tests — there are many unscientific personality tests on the market and unfortunately DISC is often tarred with the same brush. However, despite the variation in reliability of other personality tests, DISC has independently been found to be highly reliable.

In fact, studies from Scandinavia and Russia have both found that the reliability of DISC is high, meaning that individuals who take the assessment will consistently receive the same result. 

Myth #4: DISC isn’t worth the price

Fact: DISC can be great for your bottom line. 

Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution are hard to quantify, so it’s always difficult to measure the exact ROI of DISC assessments. This understandably leaves people wondering whether DISC profiling is worth the price. 

However, while communication and teamwork are hard to measure, metrics such as employee engagement, retention, and productivity can show the real impact of personality assessments on your business. When each team member has a better understanding of their own personality and those of their team members they can unlock their full potential for better workplace relationships and interactions.  

Read our blog about measuring the ROI of DISC assessments to find out more about how to measure its impact on your bottom line. 

Myth #5: DISC and Myers-Briggs are basically the same

Fact: DISC and Myers-Briggs have many key differences.

As two of the most popular personality assessments in the world, it’s no surprise that people sometimes conflate the two. However, DISC is completely different to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; in fact, we even wrote a whole blog comparing these two types of personality assessment

While DISC focuses on four main categories (Dominance, Influence, Compliance, and Steadiness), the MBTI offers 16 different results made up of eight letters. INFP, ESTJ, ENFP… the list of possible results goes on and on. In our view, Myers-Briggs is overly complicated for workplace personality profiling: how can you expect to remember that one coworker is an ENTJ and another is an ISFJ? It’s just too much! DISC is more appropriate for use in the workplace because of its memorable and intuitive approach to personality. 

Myth #6: D types are the best leaders

Fact: Although each profile may have a different leadership style, no profile makes a better leader than the others. 

We hear this one a lot: people assume that anyone with the Dominance style is a superior leader. D types often quite like this assumption because they tend to be ambitious, competitive, and results-oriented — all things that can be beneficial qualities in a leader.

However, this does not mean that we should only promote D types to leadership positions from now on. Far from it! All the profiles that make up DISC can be great leaders thanks to their unique personality type, and they all have their own limitations and opportunities for growth. 

For example, an Influence style leader is often great at motivating their team to achieve great things, making everyone feel welcome and appreciated, and bringing much-needed positivity to every task. However, they sometimes struggle with the fine details of a project and dislike confrontation, which can limit their effectiveness as leaders. To reach their full potential, they may need to practise healthy conflict resolution. 

Similarly, a Steadiness type leader is often a great role model due to their patient, supportive, and democratic nature. They care a lot about the members of their team and help create a great work environment. To reach their full potential as leaders, however, people with this personality may need to work on their ability to take risks and make big decisions, two things that S types often shy away from. 

Finally, Compliance types have an organised and meticulous leadership style, keeping a close eye on the details to ensure that everyone is always on track. These leaders are great at approaching problems in new and effective ways, making them great at leading teams to success. However, to reach their full potential as leaders they may need to focus on their interactions with their team members. Naturally independent and sometimes overly critical, C type leaders sometimes need to work on their ability to motivate and collaborate effectively with others. 

Want to learn more about the strengths and limitations of each style in leadership? We wrote this helpful blog to guide you through each personality’s leadership style.  

In summary

It’s clear that there are a lot of myths about the pros and cons of DISC profiling and personality assessments more widely. We hope that this guide has helped you improve your understanding of all things DISC. 

If you’re considering using DISC to enhance your team and unlock your people’s potential, why wait? Get in touch to find out more or browse our different DISC Flow® Profile reports to find the best solution for you.