If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably taken personality test after personality test trying to find one result that felt just right. You may have found yourself frustrated by the section marked “weaknesses,” feeling a little called-out, but you were likely excited as you skimmed through the “strengths” section－it sounded pretty good.
As a culture, we have become more interested in understanding ourselves. As a result, personality models are rapidly growing in popularity. Employers, therapists, family, friends－even strangers are asking us for more information about our personality types. But how do we know which assessments are accurate and helpful? And how are we even supposed to use our results?
If you’ve pursued personality at all, you’re likely familiar with the 16-Personalities, which is a very commonly used personality model, especially in relation to peers and employers. DISC is another accurate, professional-oriented personality model, designed to help us understand how we work, think, and behave. While the two models are very different, they can both lead to a greater understanding of ourselves and others, which can ultimately lead to greater empathy, a drive for self-improvement, and more deeply rooted self-confidence.
DISC vs 16-Personalities: what is the difference?
While the DISC assessment measures observable behavior (think of how we do things rather than why), 16-Personalities is more introspective and measures behaviors that result from the way you internalize and deal with information or circumstances. And so, 16-Personalities and DISC will give you different insights regarding human behaviors and personality traits.
While unique in other ways, both DISC and 16-Personalities are two of the most popular personality models and have similar backgrounds; both personality models originated many years ago and have since been updated and evolved by modern psychologists. Both personality assessments have noted success in the professional world although different in their approaches.
The 16-Personalities is one of the most well-known personality assessments. Based on the model of personality types developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, the 16-Personalities model has become especially popular in modern workplaces to help companies better understand their employees. 16-Personalities is also popular for personal use because it measures how we perceive our reality and make decisions-- appealing to people who wish to better understand themselves on a deeper, more introspective level.
This model has four distinct traits representing the different ways people think and behave:
DISC is a “four-factor” personality model, meaning it observes four primary behavioral traits across the population. The traits are:
Each person has a primary trait and sometimes a secondary trait as well. None of these traits are bad or better than the others and they all refer to observable behaviors, making DISC personality easy to understand across different language barriers. DISC was developed in the early 1900’s by psychologist William Marston, the same man who also created Wonder Woman and the polygraph. It resembles other four-factor models that have been around since Hippocrates described the “four temperaments” 2,000 years ago.
The DISC model is often popular for team building and in professional settings due to how it relates to various work scenarios and how easily understandable the results are. Get started by integrating DISC into your hiring, training, and sales programs today!
16-Personalities vs DISC: strengths and weaknesses
Both 16-Personalities and DISC are well-known, useful personality assessment tools that make it easier for us to learn more about ourselves and others. Because people are infinitely complex and dynamic, 16-Personalities and DISC each do well in some areas and fall short in others. Keep in mind that these tests do not measure emotional intelligence or potential job performance.
Strengths: 16-Personalities assessments provide insight into our own actions as well as those of others, which allows us to remain more empathetic and open-minded around other people. It also helps test-takers get along with those who would otherwise be much more difficult to interact with. By having a better understanding of our personality style and those around us, we’re much more likely to make decisions that sensitively account for personality differences.
Weaknesses: While many people have used and appreciated the model, it has been criticized for a few notable flaws:
Limited scientific validity and reliability: because it was developed through clinical observation, rather than controlled research, there’s no concrete data to back up personality claims.
Each personality trait is represented as a binary “either-or,” rather than a normal distribution (i.e. a bell curve), which is how traits are actually spread across a population. This can lead a lot of people to find the results inaccurate for their personality. For example, if someone is outgoing, but also enjoys spending time alone, they’d likely feel they were somewhere in the middle of being an introvert or an extrovert. However, the 16-Personality model would type them as one or the other.
There is evidence showing some of the trait differences are not in fact mutually exclusive. People might not be “thinkers” OR “feelers”; they can be both.
Strengths: Though four-factor models of personality, like DISC, emerged out of clinical observation, they have also been validated by scientific research. DISC is also easy to learn, which means people will have a much easier time applying it to different situations and won’t need to do much of their own research. The results are useful for both individual and relationship insights. In other words, results can offer more than just an overview of your personality.
Weaknesses: Although DISC reports are a useful tool for better understanding personality, there are a few areas in which it lacks:
DISC hasn’t been studied as often as similar models, like the Big Five, and therefore has less controlled research to support it.
The insights tend to focus on behavior, rather than deeper thought patterns. This makes it less applicable in more emotional situations, like counseling.
DISC vs 16-Personalities: which one should I use?
When trying to decide when you should use 16-Personalities vs DISC, you need to first understand that both 16-Personalities and DISC are more behaviorally focused, which makes them great tools for predicting fit and understanding personal actions we might not consciously notice. They tend to be less suitable for situations requiring a deeper, more emotional understanding, like counseling or relationship coaching.
The 16-Personalities can be helpful for opening up conversations about personality, creating a deeper understanding of one another, and bringing awareness to our behavioral differences. It is often used by employers to help gain a general understanding of their employees’ strengths and weaknesses.
DISC is also a useful tool for the professional world. Because it is accurate and easy to understand, DISC has become very popular among coaches, consultants, and trainers. It is most helpful in situations where utility, application, and interpersonal behavioral change are most important, like sales, marketing, leadership, and talent development. DISC is most suitable for professional settings because it offers objective data that eliminates some of the guesswork out of hiring and working with others. The insights DISC offers allow professionals to understand how they may behave in different office scenarios, during conflict, in leadership roles, and as members of a team.
DISC or 16-Personalities: which one is better?
When deciding between DISC or 16-Personalities it is important to remember that, as covered in previous sections, both tests can provide valuable insight and are easy, effective ways to learn more about yourself and others. When used correctly, as an overall guide to self-improvement, tools like 16-Personality and DISC can help you learn to communicate more empathetically, understand other perspectives, and overcome personal blind spots.