As a business coach when I talk to business owners about the work I do with DiSC profiling I often get asked “is that the same as Myers Briggs (MBTI)?” and whether there is one that is better than the other.
So, I thought it would be useful to explain what the two assessments are and how they are both similar and different.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
The MBTI tool was developed and formalized in the 1940s by researcher Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katherine Briggs. This tool is based on the theory of psychological type introduced in the 1920s by Carl G. Jung.
The test asks participants to answer a lengthy series of up to 90 questions. These are designed to indicate how the personality of the test taker falls into four categories:
MBTI identifies four main areas:
It measures all four categories and results in the test taker being placed in one of sixteen clearly defined personality types, labelled using a four-letter code that corresponds with the test taker’s preference in each of the four categories. This means that a test taker’s personality will receive a label indicating personality type such as “ESFP,” “IIFJ,”
Myers Briggs is a great tool for understanding yourself. However, it can lead to an overload of information and within a couple of months, most of which can soon be forgotten. The main focus on the tool is about teaching you about yourself. It’s very difficult to memorize all 16 personality types leaving you with little understanding of other personality types or how to interact in a comprehensive manner.
DISC is a human behaviour model originally presented by Professor William Marston in his 1928 book Emotions of Normal People. DISC measures four unique areas, that make up the DISC acronym:
D (Dominance) measures problems and challenges.
I (Interpersonal) relates to people and contacts.
S (Steadiness) measures a person’s inclination towardpace and consistency.
C (Compliance) measures procedures and compliance.
The test asks typically 24-30 questions and is essentially assessing the pace and focus of individuals by measuring the balance of four traits:
It measures all four categories and results in the test taker being placed in one of four clearly defined personality types, labelled using the letter of the most dominant of the four traits either “D”, “I”, “S”or “C”.
I have already covered DiSC and the four different types in a previous article which you can [read here]. DiSC can deliver individuals a greater understanding of themselves, but more importantly insights into maximising their potential and determine strategies for interacting with others more harmoniously.
Both DISC and MBTI tools are widely respected and used. Both provide insight into personality and behaviour.
Jung and Marston were contemporaries and published the keytexts informing on DISC and MBTI in the 1920s. Fundamentally Jung and Marston specialized in similar fields (Jung was a psychiatrist, Marston was a psychologist), and both created tools that essentially provide insight into personality and behaviour. Both tools are widely respected and used by individuals, organizations, institutions and corporations worldwide.
There are, however, a few notable differences between them other than the length of the test:
· MBTI sorts individuals into 16 personality types, while DISC focuses primarily on only 4 primary personality types (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliant)
· MBTI assumes that personality is fixed and unlikely to change, while DISC is more open to the possibility that different situations and environments might bring out different personality traits in an individual
· MBTI is largely an indicator of an individual’s internal thinking, while DISC is designed to measure how personality translates to external behaviour
· MBTi is based on yes/no questions while DiSC is word based so gives a broader range of possibilities on which to base an individual’s profile
So which to use?
Generally speaking, the MBTI is a good assessment tool for individuals looking for self-knowledge. But as the MBTI is so personal, people who take it often feel uncomfortable sharing their results with others. This makes MBTI a difficult tool to use in a business context. There is also a danger that when an employee knows in advance that their test results will be shared with others, they may attempt to answer in a way that they perceive will make the best possible impression on others. This means that the test results are invalidated which means the exercise is essentially useless.
Also, those that have done the test struggle to retain useful information from their personality profile, let alone that of others which is where the real value lies.
When we come to DiSC however there are a few key advantages:
· DISC offers all of the advantages of MBTI, but with a more simplistic acronym and only four types of personality to remember which make it easier to apply. This also means that individuals taking the DISC test often remember their results years after taking the initial assessment.
· DISC can easily be visualized and explained in a circular or quadrant diagram which is much simpler than MBTI but with in-depth insights.
· DISC is done specific to the work environment so results tend not to be as intimate or personal as MBTI. This makes it easier for individuals taking the DISC test to share their results.
· DISC can be used to help a person grow, help develop as a member of a team or even be used to help select a candidate for a job
· DISC reports contain instructions (including strengths, weaknesses, motivators and stressors) for taking the tools beyond the assessment in order to apply them in real life. It’s not just about what the profile is but more so what to do with the information.
· Where MBTI is one dimensional (self-understanding) DiSC is three dimensional with understanding of who you really are; better understanding of what makes other tick and their wants and needs; how to adapt your behaviour to better match those you are working with or selling to.
So, in summary, whilst many businesses have had success using MBTI if as a business owner you are looking for a tool to use in the workplace that can be quickly and easily applied then DiSC is the logical choice.