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Overview of DiSC®

The DiSC®, and any related instrument to it (e.g., DISC®-360), appears to be widely used and well respected. It was developed from the original work of the psychologist William Marston. It is a quadrant behavioral model, and was originally correlated with the personality factors in Cattell’s 16 PF (personality factors). SYMLOG also correlates with numerous scales found in the factors of Cattell, the MMPI, Thurstone, and Couch.

The DiSC® groups characteristics of behavior into four major styles. The four styles are:

D = Dominance/Drive
I = Influence/Inducement
S = Steadiness/Submission
C = Conscientiousness/Compliance

The D and I have aspects of extroversion, in the classical psychological use.
The S and C are classical attributes of introversion.
These can be seen as part of the U-D dimension in SYMLOG, but the words used between the two factors are neither opposite nor bi-polar, as in SYMLOG.

The D and C represent task-focused aspects of the personality (F-B dimension).
The I and S represent social aspects of the personality (P-N dimension).
This seems not unlike the many studies that look at concern for task/production vs. concern for people, or Theory X vs. Theory Y, that have been used since the early years of the discipline. Generally, these all measure in the SYMLOG PF quadrant, and represent the classic polarization between F and P in SYMLOG.

This four-quadrant model is essentially another example of classical four quadrant models that describe and label, but lack a measurement system, or underlying theoretical basis (field theory in the case of SYMLOG).

Heuristic Comparison of DiSC® to SYMLOG®

Word association with ranking system Measurement system with rating scale against a researched question
Assessment of self Assessment of self, others, concepts, team and organization
Assessment of self and report from others (DiSC 360) Assessment of self, others, concepts, team and organization, assessment from others
one image only – self Multiple images – self, important concepts, other team members, team, culture, etc.
4 behaviorally-based factors 3 bi-polar dimensions
Based on adjectives Based on adjectives, general behavior, or individual and organizational values
results reported by quadrant results reported in field diagrams and bargraphs
based on behavioral styles based on dimensions of social interaction – either behavior or values
personality model personality model and social interaction theory
15 unique styles named as classical profile patterns of behavior 26 personality and role types
High, medium, and low in each dimension, based on responses Over, under, within range based on responses measured against a normative profile
28 adjectives/traits used for calculating strength in each of 4 categories, - integrated into 1 of 15 classical patterns or “styles” 26 items used to produce overall profile – dimensions both integrated and taken separately as 26 vectors
Descriptive results only Descriptive and proscriptive (results compared with norm for effective)
Infers relationship to work environment Ability to ask directly on characteristics of work environment
Reports only behavior, not the impact on others Can measure impact of behavior on others through direct report
Additive model of factors Dimensions are integrated
Factors are uni-dimensional Dimensions are bi-polar
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SYMLOG vs. other models
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  • SYMLOG and Blake and Mouton Leadership Grid
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