There can be some confusion around just what a DiSC® profile will measure. You might hear concerns that it will measure mental health, honesty, aptitude, or that it will evaluate one’s personality. DiSC does none of this. It measures tendencies and preferences, or patterns of behavior, with no judgment regarding value or alignment with a skill set or job classification. DiSC is a tool for dialog, not diagnosis.
Unlike many other personality assessments, the Everything DiSC assessment is written for a non-technical, general audience. The feedback in the profiles is written to be neutral in tone, and although there are sections that explore the respondent’s potential shortcomings, efforts were made to eliminate feedback that might be psychologically sensitive or threatening in nature.
The Everything DiSC Work of Leaders does suggest behaviors appropriate to various leadership tasks, but it is assumed that every person is capable of those behaviors.
Behavior is adaptable and these tools help us learn when, how, and why we might want to spend the additional energy of using behavioral styles that are not our preferred ones.
DiSC scales or priorities
Let’s look at the eight scales covered by an Everything DiSC assessment*:
D measures a direct, dominant disposition using adjectives such as driven, strong-willed, and forceful.
i measures an interactive, influencing disposition using adjectives such as sociable, lively, and talkative.
S measures an accommodating, steady disposition using adjectives such as considerate, patient, and soft-hearted.
C measures a private, conscientious disposition using adjectives such as analytical, reserved, and unemotional.
Everything DiSC also measures priorities. Each priority is measured separately from the DiSC style, although there are degrees of overlap. These are presented to let you know that your results might differ from the average person who shares your style. For example, you could be a C style with a priority for Enthusiasm because you scored high in that one measure typically associated with an i style. Priorities also reflect the focus on the specific DiSC test, so you might have a priority for Competency in a sales situation, but for Challenge in a management setting.
We aren’t just one style. We’re a blend of styles. If you’re a strong D who needs to move slowly and methodically on a group project, you can. You might have to make a more conscious effort at it than would an S. In other words, DiSC is descriptive, not prescriptive.
Note that there are other assessments using a general DISC model, but they make different claims about what they measure and have various levels of reliability and validity.
Everything DiSC assessments are quite stable over time. You should expect no more than small changes if you take an additional Everything DiSC instrument or take the same one at a later time. The more time that passes, however, the more likely there is to be a slight change.
Everything DiSC assessments have internal consistency. In other words, there is a high correlation among questions that profess to measure the same thing. All the items on a given scale (e.g., the D scale) measure the same thing (e.g., Dominance), and a statistic called Cronbach’s Alpha shows this consistency.
Construct validity examines the tool on a highly theoretical level. A construct is an abstract idea or concept such as the Di tendency to be bold, adventurous, and fast-paced. This construct, in turn, is theoretically related to other constructs. For instance, it is reasonable to assume that someone who is very bold will not be particularly cautious in nature. Thus, bold tendencies and cautious tendencies are theoretically linked in a negative manner. So if the measure of a bold tendency has high validity, people scoring high on the Di scale should score relatively low on a scale measuring cautiousness, such as the SC scale. And that’s what we see.
Another method used to provide evidence of construct validity involves correlating an assessment with other well-respected assessments of similar traits. For this purpose, a group of respondents took the Everything DiSC® assessment and two established measures of personality: the NEO® Personality Inventory–Revised (NEO PI-R™) and the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF®). Correlations between the Everything DiSC scales and the scales of the NEO PI-R and the 16PF® provide additional support for the validity of the assessment.
The assessment is completed online and consists of approximately 80 items. It uses computerized adaptive testing (CAT) to improve accuracy so some respondents will see additional questions. CAT responds to the test taker and the questions presented are adapted according to how previous questions were answered. Participants respond to a phrase instead of a single word.
There are very few scoring differences based on demographics. There’s no indication that one’s ethnicity influences a DiSC result. There is a slight measurable difference on the i scale for age and for gender on the D, DC, iS, and S scales.
A few people will answer the DiSC survey in an unexpected manner for the DISC model. This doesn’t mean that the person was dishonest, but that he or she differs from people who responded in a mostly similar manner. The Everything DiSC Supplemental Report for Facilitators provides scores for all eight DiSC scales: D, Di/iD, i, iS/Si, S, SC/CS, C, and CD/DC, giving you more information to help your participant understand their style and priorities.
More information about the evaluation of the Everything DiSC assessments, including Work of Leaders and the Comparison Reports is available in the About Everything DiSC: Theory and Research. If you want even more, you’ll find it in the Everything DiSC Manual.
* Research Report for Adaptive Testing Assessment, Wiley, page 5.
Author: Kristeen Bullwinkle