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DISC assessments are behavior self-assessment tools based on the 1928 DISC emotional and behavioral theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston. The tools are designed to predict job performance, however they have not successfully demonstrated any ability to do so. DISC has not been shown to have any scientific validity.
The first self-assessment based on Marston's DISC theory was created in 1956 by Walter Clarke, an industrial psychologist. In 1956, Clarke created the Activity Vector Analysis, a checklist of adjectives on which he asked people to indicate descriptions that were accurate about themselves. This self-assessment was intended for use in businesses needing assistance in choosing qualified employees.
Merenda, Peter F. and Clarke published their findings on a new instrument in the January 1965 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology. Instead of using a checklist, the "Self Description" test asks respondents to make a choice between two or more terms. "Self Description" was used by John Geier to create the Personal Profile System in the 1970s.
The self-assessment tools are designed for use in personnel management in businesses.
DISC has been used to help determine a course of action when dealing with problems as a leadership team—that is, taking the various aspects of each DISC type into account when solving problems or assigning jobs.
The DISC assessments have demonstrated no ability to predict job performance as the validity is low. The assessment has a high reliability, meaning that an individual will consistently get the same result over time.
A Russian pilot study found a coefficient of .89 for retesting after one week.
A research paper in the Scandinavian Psychological Association also found high levels of internal consistency in a normative DISC assessment.
Use of using DISC in employee recruitment process. In his criticism, Williams argues that a good job performance test should be well constructed, have test-retest reliability, have Criterion Validity for criteria of job performance, and incorporate the theory of job performance in the test's design.
DISC assessment rarely if ever correlates to job performance. They should not be used 2008 report "reported inter-item reliability — not validity" referring to the fact that the report did not publish findings correlating the DISC to job performance.
The DISC theory describes personality through four central traits
- Dominance: active use of force to overcome resistance in the environment
- Inducement: use of charm in order to deal with obstacles
- Submission: warm and voluntary acceptance of the need to fulfill a request
- Compliance: fearful adjustment to a superior force
Marston described the DISC characteristics in his 1928 book Emotions of Normal People, which he generated from emotions and behavior of people in the general population. According to Marston, people illustrate their emotions using four behavior types: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.
In Marston's analysis, Dominance is characterized by actively using force to overcome resistance in the environment; Inducement involves using charm in order to deal with obstacles; Submission is a warm and voluntary acceptance of the need to fulfill a request; and Compliance represents fearful adjustment to a superior force.
He argued that these behavioral types came from people's sense of self and their interaction with the environment. He based the four types on two underlying dimensions that influenced people's emotional behavior. The first dimension is whether a person views their environment as favourable or unfavourable. The second dimension is whether a person perceives themselves as having control or lack of control over their environment.
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- Wallace, S. Rains; Clarke, WALTER V.; Dry, RAYMOND J. (September 1956). "The Activity Vector Analysis as a Selector of Life Insurance Salesmen". Personnel Psychology. 9 (3): 337–345. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.1956.tb01072.x.
- Merenda, Peter F.; Clarke, Walter V. (January 1965). "Self description and personality measurement". Journal of Clinical Psychology. 21: 52–56. doi:10.1002/1097-4679(196501)21:1<52::AID-JCLP2270210115>3.0.CO;2-K. PMID 14283649.
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- Martinussen, Monica; Richardsen, Astrid M.; Vårum, Helge W. (5 August 2003). "Validation of an ipsative personality measure (DISCUS)". Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. 42 (5): 411–416. doi:10.1111/1467-9450.00253. PMID 11771810.
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- Marston, William M. (1928). Emotions of Normal People. K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd. pp. 405.