DISC Personalities vs Personal Style Indicator

Both DISC Personalities and the Personal Style Indicator are self-scoring, self-administered personality assessments of how a person responds to time, tasks and other situations at home and at work.

Both tools have value, and there are differences between them as well.

What are the origins of the DISC test?

The origins of the modern DISC test date back to 1928 when William Marston published his landmark book “Emotions of Normal People.” Marston was a lawyer and a psychologist; he also contributed to the first polygraph test, authored self-help books, and even created the character “Wonder Woman!”

Industrial psychologist Walter Clark developed these ideas into the first DISC profile in 1956. Clark created the ‘Activity Vector Analysis,’ a checklist of adjectives on which he asked people to indicate descriptions that were accurate about themselves. The assessment was intended to be used by employers trying to find qualified employees.

Take your free DISC Personalities assessment here (free with downloadable booklet)


What are the origins of the Personal Style Indicator (PSI)?

The Personal Style Indicator was developed in the 1970s by Terry Anderson and Everett Robinson, professors from Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Canada.

They wanted to develop a tool that was used primarily for communication purposes, not for psychometric testing and job placement.  Thus they use the term personality ‘style’ and focus on behavioral preferences instead of type casting.

Take your Personal Style Indicator assessment here ($45 with downloadable booklet)


What does ‘DISC’ stand for?

DISC was an acronym that originally stood for: Dominant, Influential, Steady, and Compliant.  DISC Personalities has updated those terms to Dominant, Inspiring, Supportive, and Conscientious.


What does the Personal Style Indicator measure?

The PSI is a four-quadrant tool that measures relative preferences of a person using four categories as well: Behavioural, Cognitive, Interpersonal, and Affective

What are the similarities between the tools?

Both tools are:

  • Self scoring
  • Self-assessing
  • Four-quadrant
  • Communication oriented

Both have similar descriptors for the four quadrants:

DISC quadrant terms                               Personal Style Indicator quadrant terms

Dominant Behavioural
Inspiring Affective
Supportive Interpersonal
Conscientious Cognitive

Both tools provide 21 descriptions of the personality ‘blends’ that occur when people score in multiple quadrants.  DISC personalities refers to these as ‘blends,’ while the Personal Style Indicator refers to them as ‘patterns.’

Both identify strengths and weaknesses of each personality and each personality blend, or pattern.

Both can be taught without certification, although certification is offered for both tools.

What are the main differences between the PSI and DISC Personalities?

While the PSI assesses scores on a 64 point grid, DISC Personalities scores participants out of 100% in each personality quadrant.

The Personal Style Indicator gives objective descriptions of each personality type, while DISC Personalities focuses on the key strength that each participant brings to the team.

DISC Personalities is a free online tool, with a 2-hour certificated companion course.

The Personal Style Indicator cost $45, with a companion online course.

DISC Personalities™ Assessment

How to use each assessment

Both DISC Personalities test is used for a variety of purposes including:

  • Learning how to communicate better with others
  • Understanding the motivations of others
  • Hiring the right person for the right job
  • Coaching people to recognize their natural areas of strength and weakness
  • Self-reflection and personal growth

Summary of DISC Personalities and the DISC assessment

In summary, both DISC Personalities and the PSI tools are a reliable, simple way to:

  • enhance communication on your team
  • increase your knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses
  • learn the strengths and weaknesses of those around you
  • understand the motivations of yourself and others
  • improve success in hiring and promotion
  • dramatically increase your effectiveness working with people

Additional resources

Thanks for reading this article on How does DISC Personalities compare with the Personal Style Indicator.  Below are additional resources from Professional Leadership Institute, the global provider of online human resources and leadership tools:

Trevor Throness head shot 2019

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com https://www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com/

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-People-Skills-Dramatically-Performance/dp/1632651068

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