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DiSC® History

The Origin Story

DISC theory was first described by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist with a Ph.D from Harvard, in his 1928 book Emotions of Normal People. Marston identified what he called four “primary emotions” and associated behavioral responses, which we know today as Dominance (D), Influence (i), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C). Dr. Marston created this work as an effort to describe how a person’s emotions might lead to different group interactions, and how these might change over time. He wanted to help people understand how their own behavior patterns affected their interactions within a group, and how to manage those behaviors. Dr. Marston spent his life in the pursuit of a better understanding of human nature, and many of his creations reflect this. Not only did he create the DISC theory, but he invented the first lie detector test and developed and wrote the beloved Wonder Woman character and comic books

DISC was first applied to a personality assessment in the 1950’s by Walter V. Clarke, an industrial/organizational psychologist. This first assessment was rather primitivea series of paired adjectives  and yes/no questions were presented to participants.   

Modern Developments

In the 1970s, John Geier, a faculty member in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Health Sciences, formed a company called Performax (which eventually became Inscape Publishing) that was the first commercial publisher of the DiSC assessment. In 1994, Inscape Publishing (now part of Wiley) created a new DiSC assessment (you can tell it’s Wiley's DiSC by the signature lower-cased “i” ) that could be self-administered and scored to gain personal insights into one’s own patterns of behavior. This assessment is now known as the DiSC® Classic, and is still available. In 2003, technology had advanced to the point that DiSC could make the leap to the digital world, and Inscape moved DiSC into an online application called EPIC.

With the tools now available online, Inscape was able to create a much more personalized DiSC experience, appropriately named Everything DiSC®. The reports evolved to display personality as a range of behaviors within a circle, or circumplex, offering a better representation of true day-to-day interactions and individual nuances. (Interested in learning more about this transformation? Check out How My Graph Became a Dot: From DiSC Classic to Everything DiSC.)

The first behavioral assessment of its kind to implement adaptive testing, Everything DiSC’s continues to evolve and adapt innovative testing techniques that provide practical, real-world value for customers.

The DiSC model and assessment has clearly benefited form continuous evolution and innovation  for nearly 100 years.  

The Future

Everything DiSC harnesses the power of the third generation of the DiSC® model—one of the most widely used, scientifically-based approaches to assessing personality and developing critical interpersonal business skills. With programs for leadership, sales, management, and workplace development, Everything DiSC programs are in-depth, specialized, and client customized to fit clients’ needs.

The latest innovation, Everything DiSC® on Catalyst™. offers learners a highly adaptive, human-centered solution that transforms your typical day-long training event into an ongoing development process—that works. The result is a more engaged, collaborative workforce that has an immediate and lasting impact on your organization’s performance and culture.