When you’re looking for a personality assessment to use in your workplace, you’ll find that there are lots of different assessments, based on different psychological theories and providing different kinds of information. Two of the most popular assessment tools are Discovery (also known as Insights Discovery) and Disc (also written as ‘DISC’). We’ll talk about the similarities and differences between these two assessments so that you can see which one might best suit your needs.
Similarities between Disc and Discovery
Both Disc and Discovery are psychometric tools that are used in business environments. They both sort people into simplified personality types based on self-reported answers to a range of questions, which can be both a strength and a drawback. Self-report allows for people to share their own perspectives on their own life, however, it also means that results from these assessments are only as reliable as the person who submitted the data when completing the assessment.
The tests work by giving the test taker a series of questions or statements for which they will choose the answer that feels most appropriate for them from a list of multiple choice options. These answers are then collated together and analyzed to produce a profile of the test taker. Often businesses will get teams or even whole departments to take the assessments at the same time so they can discuss the results together.
The Disc assessment
The Disc assessment is based on the work of psychologist William Moulton Marston, also known as the creator of Wonder Woman. The assessment determines people’s emotional style based on four traits: dominance (D), inducement or influence (I), submission or steadiness (S), and compliance or conscientiousness (C). Each individual will have one of these traits as their default approach, so you’ll hear people who have used this tool describing themselves as “high D” or “high I” and so on.
As well as these four traits, there are two dimensions provided by the Disc, which refer to the ways in which these traits are expressed in the world. These dimensions are firstly about personality traits (i.e. whether people are more reserved or more outgoing) and secondly about behavioral style (whether people are focused on goals and tasks or on other people). It is worth noting that the Disc is generally understood as a behavioral assessment and not a personality test – so it gives information about traits or behavior, but not about other aspects of personality such as values and beliefs.
One important thing to know about the Disc assessment is that it is not controlled, owned, or overseen by any one company or person. The theories of Marston that the tools are based on are publicly accessible, and anyone can use these theories to develop their own assessment tools. For this reason, you might find quite some variation in style between various Disc-based assessment tools.
The Insights Discovery
The Insights Discovery assessment is based on the work of Carl Jung and sorts people into four colors which represent four outlooks and corresponding goals. The four colors are cool blue (precise, exacting, and deliberate and seeking understanding), earth green (caring and patient and seeking harmony), sunshine yellow (fun and sociable and seeking recognition), and fiery red (driven and confident, and seeking achievement). These four aspects form the basis of the Insights Discovery assessment. Further assessment is then provided through looking at each person’s personality type based on the work of Jung. He proposed that there were four primary cognitive functions that people use when thinking and acting in the world. These cognitive functions include rational judging functions (thinking and feeling) and irrational perceiving function (sensation and intuition), and each one can be expressed in an introverted way (directed inside towards oneself) or an extraverted way (directed outwards towards others and the world). From these four functions and two expressions, eight psychological types can be identified which map onto combinations of the four colors described above.
Unlike the Disc, the Insights Discovery concept is owned and managed by one organization, so there is a specific format to the questions used in the assessment and the report created for each person. The Discovery tool is geared towards business scenarios so the results report includes information on the body language, verbal style, work strengths and weaknesses, and communication style of each person. One useful aspect of Discovery in team building is its focus on how a person of a particular color or type would interact with people of different colors or types. The exercises can include information about identifying types in others and using this information to tailor your communication with them for better teamwork.
The report is in depth and includes information on managing that person and also how that person will be as a manager of others. This report format makes the Discovery a popular tool for departments who want to foster teamwork or understand the team dynamics of their staff more thoroughly.
What these assessments are and aren’t meant to be used for
If you are thinking about using one of these assessments for your business, it is important to know what they can and can’t tell you. One mistake that is commonly made when looking at psychometric tests in a business context is thinking that an assessment can tell you who will be a good performer in their role and who will struggle. These assessments do NOT tell you about a person’s ability to succeed in their job – instead, they tell you about how a person approaches their work and how you can support that person in their development and communicate with them effectively.
Also, remember that these assessments only give you information about how the person perceives themselves, which is only as accurate as the person knows themselves to be. You should avoid stereotyping people or making assumptions about their abilities or aptitudes based on these assessments. Remember that the assessments give you suggestions about communication style and approaches, but not information on skills or values.
In the next post we’ll compare Discovery with another popular personality assessment tool, the MBTI. So check back soon for that, or learn more at www.scottstedtalk.com