Integrating the 12 DISC Sub-Traits

Hi, Everyone!

Earlier today, I was trying to identify the individual who developed the DISC Style Card system, and found something I think is very interesting at

This may be old news for some of you, but as someone who hasn’t had any formal training in DISC, I was surprised to discover that each of the four main “Factors” — Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance — has THREE “Sub-Traits” associated with it.  They are, as quoted from the website:

Accuracy (C/I, sometimes called ‘Caution’) refers to individuals for whom getting things just right is the main goal.
Co-operativeness (C/D) applies to individuals who prefer to work in a team environment.
Efficiency (D/I) describes a person primarily motivated by results.
Enthusiasm (I/S) relates to animated, expressive behaviour.
Friendliness (I/D) is essentially a social sub-trait, used of people who are open and warm to others.
Independence (D/C) is used to describe self-reliant individuals who follow their own goals.
Patience (S/D) is displayed by calm and unobtrusive types.
Persistence (S/C) represents dogged, tenacious behaviour.
Self-confidence (I/C) is used specifically to describe social confidence.
Self-motivation (D/S) relates to self-starting, ‘go-getting’ styles.
Sensitivity (C/S) appears in profiles for people who are observant and aware of their environment.
Thoughtfulness (S/I) is used to describe individuals who think their actions through carefully.

The Axiom Software website doesn’t attribute this information to any external source, so I’m left wondering if it’s a refinement they developed themselves (which is certainly cool with me, but you’d think they would lay claim to it somewhere in their copy).  Do any of you happen to know who the original developer is?

Regardless of who came up with it, show me a “Map of Humanity” and I can’t help but try to figure out how it would overlay on the ChangeGrid.  In this particular case, it was quite easy, since the locations were pretty much spelled out in the descriptions — and it ended up looking like this:

DISC Sub-Traits Overlay (Click to view full-size)

DISC Sub-Traits Overlay (Click to view full-size)

Notice that after placing the 12 Sub-Traits in their designated locations, the four corners of the ChangeGrid are left blank.  Hmmmm ….

Does that mean that the “pure” or “base” form of the factors would fill the missing spaces?

I think not.

The essence of each of the four factors would reside in the exact center of its respective quadrant, leaving the four “extremes” unnamed — D/D, I/I, S/S and C/C.

So let’s take what we know from ChangeWorks and complete the puzzle.  What one-word name would you assign to each of the four missing Sub-Traits?

Feel free to check out the Comprehensive Adjective Map for inspiration — in fact, it would be interesting to see how the Sub-Traits as described on the website resonate with the adjectives in their general vicinity on the map.

Post your answers here in the Comments, or send me an email.  I’ll share the results in a future post.

BTW — I STILL don’t know who developed the DISC Style Card!

– T –


One Response to Integrating the 12 DISC Sub-Traits

  1. Daniel Latch says:

    The DiSC was derived from Dr. William Moulton Marston’s work published as Emotions of Normal People and interpreted by Dr. John G. Geier.

    Published in 1979, Geier writes about his attraction to Marston’s ideas in page 3 of the prologue:

    “In contrast to typology, the trait approach provided a greater latitude for describing individual differences. There was recognition that one individual could possess many traits and that the intensity of the traits within a person might indicate a difference in behavior.”

    Geier goes on to recount that using factor analysis of observations, focused interviews, and content of diaries he formulated the construct that integrated with Marston’s work.

    Marston described primary emotions and intuitively grouped terms he deemed related indicators of intensity. A five year grant was obtained in 1971 by Geier and the Chair of Health Ecology, at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Lawrence Meskin, to study the application of instrumentalism – a way to individualize learning about self and others – for the purpose of team building. By 1977, the original profiling instrument was a self contained educational system – self-administered, self-developed, and completely self-interpreted – and renamed the Personal Profile System.

    According to Geier (2007) only his early work and its refinements are legitimate and copies of an early version was produced by publishers who contributed to interpretive reports without his approval or accepted scientific validity or rigor. Today, persolog® DISC has the exclusive, world-wide license to publish Geier’s DISC products.

    Full text of Marston’s 1928 book is online at:

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