DISC Personality Test Guide

In a nutshell, the DISC assessment test is a survey that can help people understand their personality styles and behavioral trends. In this way, it’s somewhat similar to other personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Personality Test or the Enneagram Test.

It provides a personality assessment by measuring four distinct personality metrics. It’s used by millions of people because it is easy to understand and relatively simple compared to the more in-depth or abstract personality tests, like the Myers-Briggs test.

The DISC assessment test is normally used by companies that want to deepen the interpersonal relationships of their workers or find new team members that mesh well with existing team dynamics.

DISC Personality Model Explained

The “DISC” in the name stands for the four main personality elements measured throughout the assessment:

  • Dominance
  • Influence
  • Steadiness
  • Conscientiousness

This is represented visually as a circular grid that is divided into four people quadrants. Once you take the test and see your scores in each quadrant, some will be larger than others to represent their dominance over your personality. Dominance is the top left quadrant, followed by influence at the top right, steadiness at the bottom right and conscientiousness at the bottom left.

DISC Personality

Quadrants

The names of the four quadrants explain their traits and general expressions in a personality.

The dominant (D) personality matrix measures your directness and your decisiveness. It can also measure personal focus and determination and normally represents someone who is focused on the end result rather than the journey toward a goal. 

The influential (i) personality aspect measures your sociability, and your extraversion to a lesser extent. It deals with charisma, persuasive ability, and the likelihood that someone will look to make connections with others and attempt to be well-liked by a group.

The steadiness (S) personality matrix deals with even-temperedness. Those with the trait are patient or calm when it comes to handling difficult tasks or working for long hours. It's normally represented by a moderate personality that isn’t given to bold or aggressive actions or statements.

Finally, the conscientiousness (C) personality matrix looks at how analytical a person is, particularly when it comes to their attention to detail or their appreciation for orderliness. They tend to be systematic when it comes to tasks or objectives and aren’t very fast-paced.

DISC Personality Types Explained – 12 Variations

When you take a DISC personality assessment, you will get one of the 12 variations of the different personality metrics. Most of these are combination types; they’ll be represented by two of the above letters combined with each other, with the letter coming first showing which personality aspect is most important/dominant.

The last four are represented as “high” dimensions. These mean that one personality trait is indisputably higher than the others; note that it does not mean that the person in question doesn’t have any score in the other three quadrants.

The combination personality types are paired together based on their locations within the circular representation of the four archetypes. For instance, dominance can be paired with either conscientiousness or influence, but is not paired with steadiness, which is directly across from it on the graph.

CD - Conscientiousness and Dominance

The first personality type is CD, which combines conscientiousness and dominance. This type has more conscientiousness than dominance, so they tend to be straightforward and focused on the end result while being more analytical and less bold than their counterpart.

DC personality types are more dominant than conscientious. This means that they are strong-willed, focused on their goals, and may be more outwardly-focused than the quieter, conscientiousness-dominated former type.

SC - Steadiness and Conscientiousness

SC people have more steadiness than conscientiousness. This makes them quiet, reserved, and even-tempered. But their conscientiousness also makes them quite analytical and great with detail. They're the unassuming "busy bees" of an office.

CS people are more conscientious than they are steady. This makes them incredibly self-controlled, relatively submissive, and inwardly focused. They may not speak very often about their emotions or partake in social gatherings very often; they occasionally come across as aloof as a result.

IS - Influence and Steadiness

IS individuals have more of an influence focus than a steadiness focus. This makes them more interested in people and social connections than sympathy or controlling their emotions. Still, they tend to be relatively patient and calm and can be soothing influences in a work or team environment.

Si individuals emphasize their steadiness more than their influence, so they are usually a little more diplomatic and amiable, particularly when it comes to people liking them. They combine this with their natural inclination toward forming connections with people and it’s no surprise that most of these folks are connectors or accepted around their teams/offices.

DI - Dominance and Influence

DI individuals are more dominant than they are influential; they’re steamroller leaders that overcome the objections of their followers through sheer force of will. They tend to be very bold and will often state their goals outright, daring anyone to get in their way.

ID people, by contrast, use their natural inclination to connect with people to convince them to pursue their objectives. They are more motivational leaders than their counterparts, representing the more people-focused version of the above dynamic.

High Types

People who have one of the personality metrics in excess become a “high” version of that type. Again, this doesn’t mean that they don’t have any amount of the other personality matrices: just that they prefer one over the others.

High C

High C personalities are very analytical and measured in their approaches. They are extremely attentive to detail and don’t normally rock the boat, preferring instead to follow the rules and structures set in place by the company or family unit.

High S

People with a High S rating are extremely patient and supportive. They tend to be very loyal to a cause or personality once they deem them worthy of their focus. High S people can be rocks for the team, as they’re unlikely to become flustered by much of anything.

High I

These are the social butterflies of the group. They’re excellent communicators and are generally outgoing and sociable. They also tend to be confident, particularly when it comes to meeting new people and forging valuable relationships between themselves and other members of their team or family.

High D

Finally, High D personalities are extremely dominant and are natural leaders, though whether they’ll be effective at corralling support depends on their personality. They like to control things and, if they can’t lead a group, they may go off on an independent streak and play by their own rules. They’re high achievers and very competitive in most cases.

What is the DISC Assessment Used For?

The DISC assessment is primarily used for fun or by companies looking to put together excellent team-building exercises for their organizations. Because the DISC test relies on self-reported responses from individuals, it’s not used as a scientific test in any way, shape or form.

You can use the DISC assessment to change your workplace culture, understand where a miscommunication might be coming from, or understand whether someone would be good for a new position at your company or organization. The DISC assessment is sometimes used in conjunction with traditional IQ tests.

How Accurate is the DISC Assessment?

The DISC assessment has been around for about 40 years and has slowly become more accurate over time. Most modern DISC tests utilize adaptive assessment, which means that the computer administrating the test will offer different questions based on the responses of the person currently testing.

However, the nature of the test, being self-reported, means that any results should be subject to some skepticism. People have difficulty seeing past their own egos or personal biases, so they may not answer honestly even if they have the intention of doing so. This is the same limitation that all personality tests have.

Ultimately, taking the DISC multiple times throughout a week or month using adaptive assessment is the best way to determine whether the test can give you a “general” or broad reading of your personality type.

Where/How Do You Take the DISC Assessment?

You can take the DISC assessment from a variety of places, but the official test is administered by Wiley, Inc. it’s taken over a computer and can be purchased from their website; you’ll need to pay a small fee to take the test.

Free DISC Assessments

You can also find acceptable DISC assessments from free sources over the Internet, including:

DISC FAQs

Who Invented the DISC?

The DISC model was originally based on the work of Dr. William Moulton Marston in 1928.

Why Is the “i” in DISC Sometimes Not Capitalized?

The “i” is lowercase because of a printing error inherited from Wiley, a publishing company. This occurred when the DISC assessment was researched and updated by Dr. John Geier at the then-called Inscape Publishing. Wiley keeps all “i’s” lowercased for its brands.

What are the DISC personality types?

When you take the DISC personality assessment, you will get one of 12 variations of the different personality metrics. Most of the variations are combinations of different personality types.