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Yes! This is one of the best things about the DISC system. No one is purely a “D,” “I,” “S,” or “C.” Rather, each of us is a blend of these four traits, to a greater or lesser degree. Your primary trait is the one we identify with one of these four letters, but you may have above average amounts of some of the others, as well. There is an entire chapter on blends in our book, Who Do You Think You Are … Anyway?
Many university’s behavioral sciences and psychology departments have conducted research into the validity of the four type Model of Human Behavior. In 1921, Carl Jung published Psychological Types in Germany, identifying and describing four “types.” William Moulton Marston earned his doctorate from Harvard in 1921, and was professor at both Harvard and Columbia Universities. In 1928, he published The Emotions of Normal People, advancing his DISC theory. In the 1950’s, Walter Clark developed an assessment tool based on Marston’s work, the “Activity Vector Analysis.” Today, more than 50 companies use the Marston DISC Theory as the basis for examining patterns of behavior. Experts in psychometrics evaluate the validity of the assessment tool, comparing it (among others) to: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Cattell 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), Strong Interest Inventory, and the Performax Personal Profile. Marston styled assessment tools have been administered to over 30,000,000 people worldwide and they enjoy respect in the business and education communities. More than 81% of the participant’s colleagues see it as a very accurate picture of his or her habitual behavior patterns. Among those who are primarily “D” in their style, accuracy is rated at 91%; for “I” types, it is 94%. Primarily “S” type individuals perceive an 85% accuracy, while for “C” types, it is 82%. This gives us an 88.49% perceived accuracy, with a standard deviation of 6.43%. In other words, the report generated by this process is perceived as highly accurate, in most situations, by most participants.
Blends are the unique strengths of “D,” “I,” “S,” and “C” traits in your personality style. So, a blend is an individual thing. A combination refers to our own blend plus the blends of others as we act, react and interact together. It is within combinations that we experience the stresses and conflicts that cause us to adapt and adjust our own blend to work more successfully with others. Our book, Who Do You Think You Are… Anyway, has a very complete chapter that explains combinations.
Yes, you can learn to “read” people, but it is more of an “art” than a “science.” In our Model of Human Behavior, we present certain characteristic traits that help us identify styles. As you meet and observe people, you can decide for yourself if they are more “go” (a “D” or “I”) or more “slow” (an “S” or “C”)? Does their “compass” point them more toward tasks (“D” or “C”) or more toward people (“I” or “S”)? A “D” is both fast-paced and task-oriented. An “I” is both fast-paced and people-oriented. An “S” is both slow-paced and people-oriented. A “C” is both slow-paced and task-oriented. This information allows you to relate better to others’ frames of reference by knowing how they will tend to think and respond. Unless you know an individual very well, you will need to reevaluate your thinking about their personality style as you see new traits displayed. There is a very helpful and informative chapter on developing this skill in our book, Who Do You Think You Are… Anyway?
No, there is no best style, although for environment reasons, you might prefer another style. Each style has some wonderful strengths, but with every set of strengths there is a companion set of struggles. As a quick example, I have a daughter who is quiet and reserved, and once she was baby-sitting for some very active children. When she told them it was time to go get ready for bed, they told her, “We’re not going and you can’t make us.” She told me, “Dad, I think they knew I was an ‘S.’ (Kids have a way of bringing out the real you!) She then said, “So, I lowered my ‘S’ and I raised my ‘D,’ and I told those kids, ‘Your parents left me in charge and if you don’t do what I say right now, I’m telling them and you’ll be in big trouble!’ And they said to me, ‘Okay, we’ll go to bed!’ Then, with a big smile, she told me, “Dad, this stuff really works!” As we study the styles, we understand why certain people’s traits help them to excel in certain areas. We can learn to imitate those traits for greater success in our own areas of weakness. The good news is that we can grow, change, and mature to demonstrate those traits we admire in other styles.
“D” motivators tend to be bottom-line, profit and achievement “I” motivators tend to be fun, travel and position. “S” motivators tend to be helping people, building friendships and appreciation. “C” motivators tend to be value, excellence and consistency.
“D” = Do it now, do it quickly “I” = Put it off until later, make it fun “S” = Get help from others, use traditional methods “C” = Do it yourself, do it properly
“D” needs challenge and dominance. “I” needs recognition and interaction. “S” needs appreciation and service. “C” needs quality answers and correctness.
“D” is forceful and engaging with a desire to come to a decision. “I” interacts and tends to view issues as personal. “S” complies with expectations or avoids conflict. “C” tends to focus on specifics and wants to be right.
Certainly, because finances involve attention to detail. Here is how the four styles look at a budget: “D” will go over it briefly but tends not to be detail-oriented. A budget is thought of as a rough estimate that must yield to goals and plans. “I” has difficulty making sense of it because it seems too theoretical, rather than being something can be experienced by the senses or valued emotionally. “S” will stay under the budget for safety’s sake and will have great stress in weighing people issues against financial constraints when those difficult decisions must be made. “C” will stay within the budget, but a savings in one area will be applied to upgrading another area in terms of quality. Goals and plans must yield to the precision of budgeting.
Again, there is no correlation between gender and the traits of “D,” “I,” “S,” or “C”. I have known some incredibly strong male “D’s,” but I have also known some incredibly strong female “D’s.” The same is true among “I,” “S” and “C” traits, as well. In many cultures, females are subservient to males and assume an “S” type posture in their presence. However, when they are among only other females, their “DISC” personality traits are very marked. Studies have shown this to be true among African, South American, American Indian, Asian Indian, Oriental and Pacific cultures. Observe the way little girls and boys play with their toys and you will see that Basic Styles are not gender-based.
Research shows us that however you are wired in your Basic Style is who you are for life. But yes, you should mature in your traits as you work on balancing your personality. We define “maturity” as being able to know and understand the appropriate thing at the appropriate time. A major trauma in your life may temper your display of this style, but your Basic style refers to your core self, not how you have adapted it. In Get Real!, our style assessment for teens, we discuss a “High D” teenager going into the Marine Corps. While he is there, his “D” is under the control of others, and he learns it is not appropriate to act as independently as he might prefer. But, he will still be more comfortable exercising “D” type traits. When he gets out of the service, we will see his “D” traits exercise themselves in decisive ways.
I remember one of my daughters showing me five pages of sermon notes she had taken in church one Sunday morning. The pastor had spoken on “Overcoming Adversity.” As I marveled at the thoroughness of her notes, she said, “Dad, what is adversity? The pastor never told us, but it sounds pretty bad to me!”
I thought to myself, “Isn’t that interesting?” In the field of communication, we should not take too much for granted, especially when listeners may not know what we are talking about or an audience might not be familiar with all of our terms. So, in order to get the total picture as we discuss personality styles, we should begin by understanding what a personality actually is. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary defines personality as: “3. the complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual or a nation or group; esp.: the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics.” Another source cites “habitual patterns and qualities of behavior of any individual as expressed by physical or mental activities and attitudes; distinctive individual qualities.”
Knowing what we mean (and don’t mean) is important in our discussion of personalities and styles. Therefore… What is human personality? How does it work and what characteristics does it possess?
An individual’s personality style is made up of several different components. A personality is not simply a behavioral style, an attitude, or an outlook on life – it is much more complex than that! Our true personality encompasses nearly every known area of life. Because more than anything else, our temperament (that is, the way we are “wired”) tends to color or influence the way we view things, we often look at what we call a “personality style” (a style of behavior) as the most predominant force in an individual’s life.
But in order to understand a person’s complete personality, we need to take some other factors into consideration, such as:
(a) their environment,
(b) home life,
(d) position in birth order,
(e) where they go (or went) to school,
(f ) the education they received,
(g) the level of education they achieved,
(h) their particular vocation and,
(i) how it fits into their everyday life,
(j) gender – male or female plays an important role in their overall personality. (Males and females have characteristics that are distinctive to their unique physiology. It would be foolish to think that a man could ever understand what a woman feels and experiences when pregnant or after giving birth. Our gender, indeed, plays an important role in our total makeup.)
Then, we also must remember to factor in:
(k) culture – where we grew up (in what part of the country – North, South, East or West),
(l) nationality or ethnic origin,
(m) age and level of maturity – since “you can be sixteen only once, but you can be immature forever!”, growing older should help us to develop wisdom, maturity and additional insights into how life works best,
(n) intelligence quotient (I.Q.), which reflects genetic factors and measures learning ability within the dominant culture. Each of us learns at a different rate of speed, and we are sensitive to various media and instructional methods.
(o) life experiences, which play a large role in developing our personality. Someone who experiences some very positive events in life perhaps will look more on the brighter side than someone who has experienced great tragedy.
None of these fifteen characteristics, in and of themselves, makes a person who he is. Rather, all of these things combine to give a person his true personality overview. All of these factors contribute to what others think of as your personality – the expression of who you are.
Marston’s original work on DISC was called the Emotions of Normal People. He theorized the 95% of a general population was “normal” – which meant they were not in prison or some other kind of mental institution. That meant the 5% of any given population group were not normal.
His original work was done over 100 years ago – so during that time the word “normal” has changed a lot to say the least. And to complicate matters even more there is a wide range of statistical data within any given behavior disorder (from mild to severe). ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, Autism, PTSD, Behavior defiance disorder, etc., etc. The list is still growing!
The answer depends upon the severity of the condition. My first cousin, Wesley, has Downs Syndrome. He is highly literate and functionable. I have often observed him display all four of the different D-I-S-C qualities at different times. My response to him has always been the same – to show him love and respect, but realize there are additional circumstances and challenges that may need to be taken into consideration when dealing with him.
I have not found it necessary or have the need to perfectly or correctly evaluate the personality style of individuals with special needs. It is too unpredictable. Just showing them love, respect and attention may be the best approach in any given situation.
I suppose a doctoral level dissertation project could be applied to this phenomenon. However, I believe the conclusions would be these same observations that I have shared.
The topic of “values” is very broad as you can imagine. While we do not directly measure a person’s values in our DISC assessment, we do see some correlation between one’s DISC scores and one’s values.
Dictionary.com defines values as “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.” While there are many lists of values available from many sources, it is clear that there are trends in terms of what people value based on their personality styles. From a sample list of values found at yourdictionary.com we can propose these general correlations as examples:
D’s tend to value task-oriented and productive concepts such as
Dependability, Reliability, Loyalty, Commitment, Efficiency, Innovation, Spirit of adventure, Motivation, Passion, Respect, Courage, Perseverance
I’s tend to value people-oriented and involved concepts such as
Loyalty, Open-mindedness, Honesty, Creativity, Good humor, Compassion, Spirit of adventure, Motivation, Positivity, Optimism, Passion
Respect, Service to others
S’s tend to value people-oriented, stable concepts such as
Dependability, Reliability, Loyalty, Consistency, Honesty, Good humor, Compassion, Respect, Service to others
C’s tend to value task-oriented, specific concepts such as
Dependability, Reliability, Loyalty, Commitment, Consistency, Honesty, Efficiency, Innovation, Respect, Education
These are just example values and are not intended to be the same values that others might measure or list. The point is simply that personality traits and values have a correlation to an extent that there are trends. Obviously, any person can have any set of values. It is widely accepted that one’s values are less pre-determined in a person’s life vs. one’s basic personality style. Therefore, it would not be fair to assume a person’s values based on his or her personality traits. Even so, we find the example tendencies above to be the case.
Lastly, it may be helpful to think in terms of priorities when considering values. A person may highly value two different concepts but simply prioritize one value over another. In that case, it is not a matter of whether the person highly value one area and not another, but that he or she has a higher priority for one value over another. For that reason, we do not make any ethical assumptions or value assumptions based on personality styles in our assessment process.
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