Receiving feedback in the workplace is often perceived as walking on eggshells. This process demands high emotional intelligence, communication skills, and an open mind.

Feedback in the workplace is an essential component of professional development and performance management. However, the art of giving and receiving feedback is often misunderstood and can cause tension if not done in the right way.

Here’s where the DISC profile can be highly beneficial. Using DISC when giving or receiving feedback could transform this entire process. Understanding the nuances of DISC can help leaders turn the process from a source of dread into a powerful catalyst for personal and professional growth.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding an individual’s DISC type can transform the feedback process from a stressful task into a catalyst for growth.
  • Feedback strategies can be personalized based on the DISC type of each team member.
  • Using DISC profiles in feedback enhances communication, builds empathy, strengthens team unity, and promotes professional growth.
  • Leaders are pivotal in integrating DISC profiles into their team’s feedback culture.
disc assessment

DISC Can Simplify Feedback With Behavioral Insights

The DISC profile is a behavioral assessment tool that helps individuals identify their blind spots in communication. It categorizes individuals into four types:

  • Dominance (D)
  • Influence (I)
  • Steadiness (S)
  • Conscientiousness (C)

Each type responds differently to feedback, making it a key point in giving effective feedback.

Understanding DISC is one thing, but applying it in a team setting is another ball game. As Learning and Development Leaders, it’s crucial that you not only understand the DISC profile yourself but also effectively train your team members in it.

Start with a clear, simple introduction to DISC and its benefits. Make sure to articulate how understanding one’s DISC profile can help individual teammates enhance their communication skills and excel in their roles. Emphasize the relevance of DISC to real-life situations within your team’s specific workplace context.

To help you get started, visit our post: A Leaders Guide To Using DISC In The Workplace!

Once your team is familiar with the basic concept of DISC, move on to conducting DISC assessments. This process should be framed as a positive opportunity for self-awareness and professional development rather than a test or evaluation.

Take our free DISC assessment to gain actionable insights concerning your results and start receiving Automated Coaching™ to help your team perform more effectively.

Properly introducing DISC to your team and guiding them in its application can lead to more effective feedback sessions and foster an environment conducive to growth and learning. The art of giving and receiving feedback becomes a collaborative effort, raising the level of communication and understanding within the team.

Talent Development in the Age of AI


benefits of disc assessment

How DISC Can Transform Your Teams Feedback Processes

The DISC profile is not just a personality test; it’s a critical tool for enhancing communication skills and improving the feedback process. By tailoring your feedback to an individual’s DISC type, you align your communication style with their preferences, leading to more useful feedback and performance improvement.

For example, consider a scenario where a manager gives lengthy, detail-oriented feedback to an ‘I’ type employee, unaware of DISC principles. This type of feedback, incompatible with their enthusiastic and big-picture communication style, may make the feedback session unproductive, a pitfall that could be avoided using DISC profile insights.

The Pivotal Role of Leadership in Shaping a DISC-Enhanced Feedback Culture

Within this context, the role of people development becomes critical. Leaders need to understand and apply DISC principles and cultivate a feedback culture within their teams where DISC becomes integral.

4 Ways To Use DISC To Support A Feeback Culture

1. Strategize Feedback Sessions with Mixed-DISC-Type Teams

This involves leaders becoming adept at identifying the DISC profile of each person and tailoring their feedback accordingly. For example, if a leader is providing feedback to an individual who falls under the ‘D’ category (Dominance), they may opt for a more direct, concise approach focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on problems.

In contrast, when dealing with an ‘S’ type (Steadiness), the leader might need to be more patient and supportive, providing feedback with more warmth. This approach makes feedback a personalized tool that resonates more effectively with each person, promoting meaningful performance conversations.

2. Navigate Conflict Resolution Using DISC

Leaders can leverage DISC insights to navigate and mediate conflicts among teammates more effectively. For example, if a conflict arises between a ‘D’ type (who tends to be competitive and assertive) and an ‘I’ type (who prefers a more collaborative and harmonious environment), the leader can use their understanding of these profiles to guide the conversation.

They can respect the ‘D’ type’s need for directness and results while emphasizing the ‘I’ type’s importance of positivity and cooperation. By doing so, leaders can ensure that conflicts become opportunities for learning and growth rather than sources of division.

3. Promote DISC Understanding for Professional Development

Encouraging your team to understand their DISC profiles is integral to fostering a healthy feedback culture. By hosting DISC workshops or sharing resources for self-study, leaders can ensure that everyone understands their communication styles and how they interact with others.

This understanding not only fosters empathy and strengthens team cohesion but also aids in personal development in the workplace by highlighting areas for improvement.

For example, an ‘I’ type individual might realize they need to focus more on details, or a ‘C’ type might work on becoming more open to change. As each person strives for improvement, the team as a whole becomes stronger and more efficient.

This transition requires an open mind and a commitment to using DISC regularly, but the rewards for team performance and cohesion are well worth the effort.

4. Leverage Cloverleaf’s Side-By-Side Thinking Comparison Tool

Utilizing the power of Cloverleaf’s Thinking Comparison tool gives teammates unique insight into their colleagues’ diverse thinking styles and motivational drivers, all through the lens of DISC profiles.

dealing with conflict at work

Practical Tips and Strategies for Each DISC Type

Explore our comprehensive guide filled with nuanced strategies for each DISC profile. Each section, illustrated with practical scenarios, provides valuable insight on how to optimize feedback delivery and reception to foster growth and efficient communication.

D Types: The Power of Directness and Efficiency

D types value directness, efficiency, and tangible results, which can feel challenging when giving feedback. However, understanding their communication style and preferences can transform this process into a productive, stress-free experience.

Below are several ways leaders can adapt their approach to communicate with D types effectively:

  • Adopt a Direct Approach: D types appreciate straight talk. Discuss the current situation, desired outcomes, and actionable steps to achieve these goals. For instance, if you’re giving feedback to a ‘D’ type salesperson falling behind their quota, emphasize the key points succinctly and directly.
  • Emphasize Results: D types are results-oriented. When discussing their performance, focus on concrete data and facts rather than emotions or personal opinions. This helps them understand their standing and motivates them to improve.

  • Promote Independence: Give D types as much independence as possible to achieve their desired outcomes. Respect their abilities and encourage them to devise an action plan, harnessing their pioneering spirit.

  • Maintain Clarity: D types appreciate clearly defined boundaries, time limits, and resources. Clarity helps them operate efficiently and productively.

  • Prepare for Energy: It’s common for D types to respond with high energy. Don’t be overwhelmed. Stay strong, clear, and calm, offering respectful feedback that empowers them towards improvement.

I Types: Engaging with Enthusiasm and Creativity

Individuals with an ‘I’ profile are known for their enthusiasm, creativity, and sociability. They thrive when feedback is positive and engaging. Understanding how to navigate their preferences can lead to highly productive interactions. Let’s dive into strategies that make feedback more effective for I types:

  • Express Positivity: I types appreciate an optimistic approach. When discussing performance issues, highlight the benefits of the desired outcomes and demonstrate confidence in their abilities to meet these goals. For instance, if an ‘I’ type graphic designer’s creations don’t align with the company’s brand image, offer constructive feedback with an emphasis on positivity.
  • Focus on the Big Picture: I types are big-picture thinkers who appreciate understanding the broader impact of their work. Make sure to connect individual tasks and performance outcomes to the larger team or organizational goals.

  • Encourage Creativity: Acknowledge their creative abilities and interpersonal skills. I types tend to be innovative and social, so recognizing these traits can help in fostering a positive feedback environment.

  • Maintain Engagement: Keep the conversation lively and engaging, as I types prefer interactive discussions. However, be prepared to steer the conversation back on track if they start to wander off-topic.

  • Ensure a Positive Tone: I types respond better to a firm, measured, and positive tone. They’re likely to be more receptive to your feedback if you can deliver it in an upbeat manner.

  • Set a Clear Timeline: To ensure understanding and accountability, close by agreeing on a timeline for implementing the suggested improvements. This will help ‘I’ types focus their energy and creativity on meeting their performance goals.

S TYPES: Emphasizing Support and Collaboration

  • Embrace Patience and Reassurance: S types thrive in situations where they feel reassured and supported. While discussing areas of improvement, do so patiently, ensuring they understand you are critiquing the performance, not the person.
  • Highlight Their Strengths and Progress: Along with pointing out areas for improvement, acknowledge their strengths and progress, no matter how small. This balanced approach encourages S types and reinforces their sense of value.

  • Clarity on Expectations: Be clear about your expectations from S types. Ambiguity can create stress for them, so maintain clear, direct communication about goals and performance standards.

  • Create a Step-by-Step Plan: Guidance can greatly aid S types. Construct a step-by-step improvement plan together, providing them with a clear path to enhancing their performance.

  • Regular Check-Ins: Conducting regular feedback sessions helps S types feel secure and valued. Regular check-ins demonstrate your commitment to their development and allow for timely recognition of gradual improvements in their performance.

C TYPES: Precision, Accuracy, and Logical Thinking

Engaging in feedback sessions with C types, known for their conscientiousness, logical thinking, and accuracy, can be greatly enhanced by understanding their preferences. Below are some key strategies that will make your feedback sessions with C types more effective and productive:

  • Precision is Key: C types value precise, specific feedback. If you’re discussing a ‘C’ type accountant’s errors in financial reports, make sure your feedback pinpoints the exact mistakes, elucidates their impact, and provides clear guidelines for correction.
  • Emphasize Facts and Details: Stick to a factual discussion focusing on the current results and the necessary improvements. Provide evidence or examples when necessary, as C types appreciate the meticulous analysis of situations.

  • Allow Time for Planning: After providing your feedback, give them time to process the information and develop a plan for achieving the desired outcomes. They prefer to take time to think things through.

  • Establish Clear Deadlines: Agree on a specific time frame for performance improvement, including a final deadline and milestones for reviewing progress. Firm deadlines give them a clear goal to work towards and ensure accountability.

  • Recognize their Competence: Whether in private or through email, recognize their hard work, precision, or competence. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in motivating C types to continuously improve.


using the disc assessment

Mastering the Art of Receiving Feedback Using DISC

Receiving feedback constructively requires self-awareness of your own DISC type. Understanding your communication preferences can help you interpret feedback from a new perspective and take action accordingly. This understanding fosters an environment of regular and real-time feedback, aiding in personal development.

Cloverleaf Product


Understanding and applying DISC profiles in the workplace can revolutionize the feedback process, transforming it from a potential point of conflict to a tool for growth and improvement. Remember to share feedback regularly and always maintain the right way of communication according to the DISC type. 

Leveraging platforms like Cloverleaf can help you foster better understanding and synergy in your team’s interactions, accelerating conflict resolution and fostering a stronger, more cohesive unit.

Visibility into the communication styles, work approaches, and intentions of colleagues can significantly bolster team cohesion, and improve collaboration, impacting organizational effectiveness.

Schedule a meeting today to learn how Cloverleaf can help you develop the leaders who manage teams.

Have you ever wondered why some colleagues seem to have a different approach to work than others? Or why do certain team members communicate differently or prioritize tasks in a particular way? Using DISC in the workplace can help teams understand one another’s behaviors and actions.

The DISC profile can help you understand yourself and your teammates because it identifies common patterns of behavior and motivation. The assessment is easy to comprehend, with only four parts: D, I, S, and C. Each letter represents a specific work style and describes the interests of each quadrant.

This post will explore using the DISC in the workplace to improve your team’s communication, collaboration, and productivity. You’ll also discover practical tips and strategies for working effectively with each type.

How Does The DISC Assessment Differ From Other Assessments?

The DISC assessment is unique in that it provides a simple, accessible way to understand and categorize behavioral tendencies, which can improve communication, teamwork, and leadership in various contexts. Other assessments may focus on different aspects of an individual’s personality or behavior, such as emotional intelligence, cognitive abilities, values, and motivating factors.

The DISC profile differs from other assessments in focusing specifically on an individual’s response to favorable and unfavorable situations. It measures their tendency toward four behavioral traits: dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance. DISC provides insight into individual interactions and responses to stress and conflict.

DISC Dimensions Of Behavior

Why Is DISC Important In The Workplace?

Incorporating DISC into the workplace can improve communication, giving and receiving feedback, and conflict resolution to enhance team performance. Managers can create a more cohesive and effective team by understanding each person’s motivational tendencies, communication styles, and cognitive diversity.

Understanding Motivational Tendencies

One of the primary benefits of using DISC in the workplace is its ability to provide information about the motivational tendencies of individuals. For example, individuals with high Steadiness scores may value cooperation and sincerity, while those with higher Dominance scores may prioritize pushing towards goals and outcomes. Understanding these tendencies can help managers better motivate and engage members of the team.

Enhancing Communication

DISC scores can also provide insights into effectively communicating with others. For instance, a team with a disproportionate number of high Dominance scores may create an environment where those with higher Steadiness or Compliance scores do not feel comfortable contributing ideas. Managers can create a more inclusive and productive environment by understanding different communication styles.

Depersonalizing Conflict

DISC can also help depersonalize conflict by providing a common communication language for a team. For example, using a team dashboard to display aggregate DISC results can help team members better understand each other’s conflict management styles and triggers. This can lead to developing a “conflict contract” that establishes group norms for dealing with conflict and helps generate team buy-in.

Capitalizing on Cognitive Diversity

Studies have shown that teams with higher cognitive diversity produce better outcomes. DISC can help teams understand their level of cognitive diversity and how to harness it to improve outcomes. Using the team DISC wheel, managers can see where the team lacks certain styles or where a member may play a critical role in achieving team goals.

Defining the Right Roles

DISC can help managers better understand how team members fit into their roles. Managers can create a more productive and engaged team using DISC to match individuals with roles that align with their behavioral patterns. Assigning tasks that conflict with their natural style may lead to burnout or turnover.

Talent Development in the Age of AI



The D Type Personality In The Workplace

Dominance: Balancing Drive with Team Dynamics

The D Type Personality In The Workplace

The D in DISC stands for Dominance, which characterizes driven, goal-oriented, and assertive individuals. They are natural leaders who seek control and authority, viewing them as positive qualities. However, in their quest for success, D types may prioritize tasks and outcomes over the well-being and contributions of their co-workers.

High-D individuals must balance their drive for achievement with understanding how their actions affect their team dynamics. Overly focusing on tasks can dismiss the importance of building relationships and collaborating. This can ultimately hinder team success and create a hostile work environment.

Leaders with high-D traits can motivate their team towards a shared goal while creating a culture of openness, respect, and trust. By balancing their dominant nature with empathy and consideration for others, they can harness their strengths to achieve success for the team.

The I Type Personality In The Workplace

Influence: Harnessing Energy for Collaborative Success

The I Type Personality In The Workplace

“I” stands for Influence in the DISC model, representing individuals prioritizing social interaction and relationship-building. I types are energized by being around people and are drawn to change, seeing it as a positive force that can bring about new opportunities. They excel at connecting with others, using their charisma and personal skills to generate enthusiasm and excitement.

One potential downside of the I style is that their enthusiasm and love of variety can sometimes lead to impulsiveness and distractibility. They may lose sight of the end goal or become disorganized in pursuing new experiences. As a result, it can be helpful for Is to work with someone who can provide structure and help keep them focused on the task at hand.

Influencing types bring a valuable perspective to teams, and their ability to build relationships and generate excitement can help keep teams motivated and engaged. By understanding their strengths and potential pitfalls, Is can use their skills to benefit their team and the organization.

The S Type Personality In The Workplace

Steadiness: Fostering Team Harmony and Collaboration

The S Type Personality In The Workplace

These individuals are team players who prioritize a harmonious and inclusive team culture. They value stability and seek to create that for their team.

Others often consider them to be great listeners and have supportive teammates. They don’t like change or conflict and rarely initiate it, even if it costs them. It’s also essential to include them in any team decisions, give them ample notice if any changes need to be made, and seek their opinions.

S-Types like to ensure everyone is heard and foster a strong sense of connection among teammates. By understanding and leveraging the strengths of the S style, you can create a positive and supportive team environment.

The C Type Personality In The Workplace

Conscientiousness: Leveraging Attention to Detail for Team Success

The C Type Personality In The Workplace

The letter C represents traits that value a high focus on details and a desire for excellence. Individuals with this personality type are motivated to deliver quality work and are experts in their area of work. They hold themselves and their team to high standards and seek feedback to ensure their work meets expectations.

While conscientious individuals bring value to a team, they can find it stressful when faced with last-minute changes or rushed schedules. It’s important to give them adequate notice and allow them to work independently. They appreciate regular feedback but must be presented with kindness, as they can be sensitive to criticism.

These individuals thrive when given tasks that require attention to detail and expertise. They don’t need much collaboration or social interaction and may prefer to work from a private office or home. You can maximize their contribution to the team’s success by recognizing and leveraging their strengths.

How To Use The DISC Assessment With Teams?

The DISC circle illustrates how individuals with different personality types respond to change differently.

Responses to Change Based on DISC Types

The top of the circle represents the Ds and Is, who are drawn to change and view it as a positive force that can help them achieve their goals. In contrast, the Ss and Cs at the bottom of the circle are change-averse and can perceive change as an opposing force that may impede their effectiveness. They fear that chaos may arise in the team due to change.

People vs. Task Orientation

The DISC model further categorizes individuals into two groups based on their preference for people or task-oriented work. Those on the I and S side are drawn to people, collaboration, and service, and those on the D and C sides are attracted to tasks, execution, and accomplishment.

Effective Communication Strategies For Each DISC Type

The way people communicate also varies based on their place in the circle. Ds prioritize clarity over diplomacy and may come across as blunt, while Is focus on building relationships and connection.

Ss prioritize harmony and use soft-spoken, affirming communication, making direct communication difficult. Cs prioritize clear communication based on data and have a black-and-white approach to good and bad.

It’s helpful to slow down and use a measured approach when speaking to Ss and Cs, especially when giving feedback or asking for information. Providing notice and time to synthesize information is crucial for Ss and Cs.

Providing advanced notice about impending changes or project deadlines can help gain buy-in from Cs and Ss. Communicating how changes will benefit the organization or team can help achieve their support.

D and I personality types respond well to direct, confident, and energetic communication. They appreciate clear goals, objectives, and deadlines. When communicating with a D, it’s essential to be clear and concise, avoiding too much detail or ambiguity.

When communicating with an I, it’s important to be enthusiastic and engaging, using stories and anecdotes to keep their attention. They appreciate a more conversational tone and love to be recognized for their contributions.

D and I personality types appreciate a sense of urgency and enthusiasm in communication, and giving them space to express their ideas and opinions is important. They also respond well to visual aids and are more likely to be motivated by positive feedback and recognition than criticism.

Cloverleaf Product

Using DISC To Improve Communication During Team Meetings

During meetings, it’s important to be aware of communication patterns that can reveal someone’s DISC style. The Ds and Is tend to speak up first and express their opinions, while the Ss and Cs may reserve their comments. To ensure all members contribute, set aside time for Ss and Cs to provide feedback and opinions. For example, dedicating the last 15 minutes of the meeting can be effective. Creating a cadence for participation can also encourage involvement.

When Ds and Is lead meetings, ensuring everyone’s voice is heard is essential. They may assume that others will speak up if they have an idea, but encouraging participation is important. Awareness of each DISC type can help create routines that allow for informed decisions and ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

Using Cloverleaf's DISC Personality Test To Nuance Unique Personality Characteristics In The Workplace

DISC results often include a spectrum that reflects where individuals fall on each of the four quadrants. It’s possible for individuals to strongly prefer one quadrant or be more balanced, meaning they won’t have a dominant trait.

disc assessment

One of the unique features of the Cloverleaf DISC test is that it reveals some conflicting values that individuals may possess. For instance, individuals with a strong I and C may experience conflicting values because they enjoy a fast-paced environment with people and frequent changes from the I. Still, from the C, they also desire consistency.

Some characteristics may present less in individuals because they are self-regulating, which is a superpower. Balancing opposing values is a unique strength, as it allows one to see both sides of an issue.

Those with strengths in opposing quadrants, like IC and DS, have complementary strengths that can benefit a team without a partner or collaborator. This ability to see both sides of the picture can drive external collaboration and build consensus while maintaining attention to detail and striving for excellence.

In contrast, a traditional influence strength may become exhausted with detailed work. Still, someone with a balanced profile can have the energy to dig into the data and make new discoveries.

The rare combination of a high S and D result is present in only 2% of Cloverleaf users. These individuals possess a strong pioneering driver while valuing connection and being highly supportive of their team. They love change, power, and authority but also desire stability and harmony with others.

While some people with this combination may focus their drive inward rather than solely on achieving goals, it’s important to note that there is still a strong desire to move forward.


Each quadrant in the DISC profile is driven by particular questions that they find most important.

  • Ds are goal-oriented and prioritize understanding where they’re going and how to get there.

  • Influencers prioritize collaboration, resourcefulness, and the enjoyment of the task.

  • Steadiness drivers want to know how they will execute a task and how it will impact the team’s well-being.

  • Conscientious individuals want to understand the task, including its standards, expectations, and boundaries (such as time, resources, and commitments).

By using DISC in the workplace, you can tailor your communication and approach to meet their unique needs and preferences.

Understanding DISC results and the communication styles of each quadrant can significantly improve your team’s dynamics and productivity. By knowing the questions that each quadrant is interested in, you can communicate more effectively, meet everyone’s needs, and gain their buy-in faster.

Taking the DISC assessment and inviting your team to do the same can help you leverage everyone’s talents and gifts to achieve better results. Visit to start your profile and begin your journey towards better teamwork.


The theory underlying DISC comes from William Marston’s work (Marston, 1928/2013), which proposes that individuals’ tendencies can be traced to their emotional responses to environmental stressors. The DISC assessment focuses on (a) how individuals view their environment, and (b) how individuals prefer to influence others within that environment. Along these lines, the DISC is particularly helpful in explaining why individuals react and behave in certain ways when interacting with others at work. Cloverleaf uses Cleaver Company’s version of the DISC, which is based on the original theory and assessment of DISC (Merenda & Clarke, 1965). This version entails four dimensions: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C). To verify the validity and reliability of the DISC assessment, Cloverleaf conducted an independent analysis with its existing user base (sample size = 48,158). 

Description of the DISC Assessment

The DISC assessment offers 24 questions (also called a question block), each with four adjectives (or phrases). For each of the 24 questions, users must select which of the four adjectives is most like them and which of the four adjectives is least like them. Example adjectives include “persuasive,” “even-tempered,” “self-reliant,” and “generous.” Each of the adjectives within each question block either: (a) contributes to the D, I, S, or C score; (b) detracts from the D, I, S, or C score; or (c) neither contributes nor detracts from the D, I, S, or C score. Scores for D, I, S, and C are generated based on Cleaver Company’s proprietary algorithm. The range of scores for each dimension is between 0 and 100.

Reliability Analysis

Within each of the 24 question blocks, the four items are not independent. Thus, the forced-choice question approach of the assessment does not allow for the traditional reliability analyses applied to Likert-style assessments. Nonetheless, it is possible to approximate this approach using re-coded scores. Note that this approach does not illustrate the degree to which the questions are representative of the dimensions. Instead, it allows for an investigation of individual items to evaluate whether specific items are potentially problematic. 

I first created 96 variable scores that represented each of the four dimensions within each of the 24 question blocks. Within the question block, if the user rated a specific adjective that aligned with D, I, S or C as most like them, that specific dimension received a score of 2. Within the same question block, if the user rated a specific adjective aligned with D, I, S, or C as least like them, that specific dimension received a score of 0. The remaining dimensions received a score of 1. Thus, across each of the four dimensions (D, I, S, and C) there are 24 variables (e.g., D_1, D_2…D_24) with scores of 0, 1, or 2, with higher scores representing responses more representative of its dimension.

I first conducted a reliability analysis using the 24 variables for each dimension. The alpha reliabilities were .80 for Dominance, .72 for Influence, .72 for Steadiness, and .60 for Conscientiousness. I then investigated whether the alpha reliability would change when deleting any of the 24 items. For all four dimensions, there was no single item that could be deleted that would increase the alpha reliability by .1 or more (see Appendices A-D). I also evaluated the bi-variate correlation between each item and the overall dimension score (see Appendices E-H). All of the correlations were positive and statistically significant (p < .001). The average item-dimension correlation included .40 (range: .17, .60) for Dominance, .35 (range: .04, .63)  for Influence, .36 (range: .10, .55) for Steadiness, and .30 (range: .09, .52) for Conscientiousness. In total, these analyses suggest that none of the variables are particularly problematic in their association with the dimension score.

Dimensionality of the DISC Assessment

The DISC is theorized as a circumplex along two continuums. The first is whether individuals view themselves as more powerful or less powerful than their environment (i.e., akin to internal versus external locus of control). The second is whether individuals view their environment as favorable or unfavorable. Dominance entails feeling more powerful than one’s environment and operating within an unfavorable environment. Influence entails feeling more powerful than one’s environment and operating within a favorable environment. Steadiness entails feeling less powerful than one’s environment and operating within a favorable environment. Conscientiousness entails feeling less powerful than one’s environment and operating within an unfavorable environment. Given this dimensionality, we would expect that each dimension is related but relatively unique.

The forced-choice question approach of the assessment does not allow for the traditional factor analysis approach applied to Likert-style assessments. I, therefore, employed a cluster analysis approach to approximate the factor structure. Cluster analyses allow for an investigation of the characteristics of a specified number of profiles (i.e., clusters) within the sample data based on a specified number of dimensions (Scott & Knott, 1974). In this case, I specified two profiles based on two dimensions at a time. I did this for each possible pair (i.e., D and I, D and S, D and C, I and S, I and C, S and C). The underlying theory of DISC would suggest that the two profiles should differ such that the first profile has a higher mean score on one dimension compared to an alternative dimension, and the second profile is the inverse. 

I used the mean, dimension-level score for D, I,  S, and C in the cluster analyses. The findings of the cluster analyses (see Table 1) generally support a priori expectations. For example, when comparing Dominance and Influence, cluster 1 Dominance (.75) is lower than cluster 1 Influence (1.00), and cluster 2 Dominance (1.21) is higher than cluster 1 Influence (1.01). This suggests that Dominance and Influence are divergent dimensions. This expected pattern does not hold for the Steadiness and Conscientiousness comparison where the cluster scores are similar. However, each of these dimensions shows appropriate differences between the Dominance and Influence dimensions. This suggests that when users feel that they are less powerful than their environment, they might find it challenging to differentiate between their environment being favorable (Steadiness) versus unfavorable (Conscientiousness). 

Test-Retest Reliability

A total of 138 users within the sample completed the DISC assessment two or more times. This allowed for investigating whether there were significant differences between the dimension scores across time. Across the 138 users, I conducted a one-sample mean difference t-test. As expected, there were no statistically significant differences for any of the four dimensions (see Table 2 below). This offers support for test-retest reliability.


With respect to inflation bias and social desirability responding, forced-choice measures are considered superior to Likert-style assessments (Anderson et al., 1984). The challenge, however, is that forced-choice measures offer interdependent questions within each forced-choice question block. Thus, it is necessary to impose assumptions to approximate reliability and validity testing. In this case, I created continuous variables by re-scoring questions within each question block. Using this approach I was able to evaluate the general structure of the variables and dimensions. The findings suggest that there are no problematic items and that the four-dimension factor structure is appropriate. Further, findings from our test-retest analyses suggest that DISC scores are likely to remain the same when users take the measure across time. 


Anderson, C. D., Warner, J. L., & Spencer, C. C. (1984). Inflation bias in self-assessment examinations: Implications for valid employee selection. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69(4), 574–580

Marston, W. M. (1928/2013). Emotions of normal people. Vol. 158. Routledge.

Merenda, P. F., & Clarke, W. V. (1965). Self-description and personality measurement. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 21, 52–56. 

Scott, A. J., & Knott, M. (1974). A cluster analysis method for grouping means in the analysis of variance. Biometrics, 507-512.

Appendix A

Dominance – Item-Total Statistics

Appendix B

Influence – Item-Total Statistics

Appendix C

Steadiness – Item-Total Statistics

Appendix D

Conscientiousness – Item-Total Statistics

Appendix E

Dominance – Item-Dimension Correlations

Appendix F

Influence – Item-Dimension Correlations

Appendix G

Influence – Item-Dimension Correlations

Appendix H

Conscientiousness – Item-Dimension Correlations