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PDP Behavioral Assessments vs DiSC Personality Tests

by Brent W. Hubby, on Dec 6, 2022 8:56:00 AM

Business colleagues smiling

The DiSC assessment is a personality test that measures four personality traits within individuals: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. Since the 1950s, businesses have used it to help people understand their leadership styles and to facilitate teamwork in the workplace. 

Although many companies utilize the DiSC assessment, it may not be the most effective way to achieve your business outcomes. In this article, we compare the DiSC personality test to PDP Global’s suite of behavioral assessments to show why PDP is the more trusted option for talent selection, motivation, and retention. 


DiSC Personality Test

The DiSC model of behavior has its roots in the work of the psychologist William Moulton Martson. Marston published Emotions of Normal People in 1928, in which he proposed that four primary types of emotional expression exist: dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. While many credit Marston as the originator of the DiSC model, he actually never developed a personality test.

Walter Clarke created the first personality test based on the DiSC model in 1956. The test was a checklist of activities, and individuals taking it would select the activities they engaged in. Clarke developed the test to help businesses choose qualified employees. Today, many companies offer a variety of different tests based on the DiSC model.

PDP Behavioral Assessment

PDP developed the ProScan Survey with businesses in mind to have the right people in the right seats, whether for selecting qualified candidates or motivating current employees. The first iteration of ProScan was created in 1976 based on the work of personality research experts, including Thurstone, Cattell, Guilford, and Fiske. Credentialed professionals, research experts, behavioral scientists, and experienced leaders in business and industry all came together to build ProScan. Our five-factor trait model (dominance, extroversion, pace, conformity, and logic) and ProScan survey instrument then underwent rigorous testing on real-world working adults to confirm reliability and accuracy. The advantage of this method is that the assessment is founded on quantitative research on actual people rather than abstract theory.


DiSC Personality Test

DiSC circle

The DiSC personality test provides the test-taker with scores on the four behavior traits (dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness) along with a personality type. A test-taker might receive a single personality type (for example, “S”) or a combination of the types (for example, “Di”). Each type comes with a profile that describes common traits, how the type behaves in teams, motivations, and possible weaknesses. 

While Walter Clarke originally developed the DiSC personality test to help companies choose candidates, current versions of the test are not validated to evaluate a person’s suitability for employment or a particular position. 

PDP Behavioral Assessment

PDP ProScan graph

PDP’s ProScan assessment conducts 148,000 computations and permutations on item responses to generate a comprehensive behavioral profile. A 5-point Likert scale is used to collect responses so the degree that someone agrees or disagrees with a trait adjective is taken into consideration. 

The ProScan Survey provides measurements on four cornerstone traits—dominance, extraversion, pace, and conformity—as well as additional measurements for logic, energy style, energy levels, and motivators. Moreover, the PDP assessment provides profiles in three different environments (Natural Self, Priority Environment, and Outward Self). Recognizing that people’s motivators change over time and in different contexts, the ProScan provides a customized checklist to identify and define current motivators. The DiSC test will simply attach common motivators assigned to each profile instead of searching for more information directly from the individual.

Research Validation

DiSC Personality Test

DiSC personality assessment validity varies because there are many different versions of the test. Some organizations validate their particular test rigorously, while others don’t. For one particular DiSC assessment, researchers found that the four scales had good to excellent reliability, with a median Chronbach’s alpha coefficient of 0.87 and a median test-retest reliability of 0.86. Factor analyses also provide evidence for good internal validity.

PDP Behavioral Assessment

PDP Global has performed unparalleled research on working adults across the U.S. since ProScan’s inception in the 1970s. While experts consider a Chronbach’s alpha score of 0.70 to be acceptable, in the initial development research, ProScan produced an excellent reliability score of 0.94. Although the original ProScan Survey demonstrated very high reliability and validity, continual testing is an important value to us especially since language evolves over time. We underwent a series of multi-year studies ending in 2021 to optimize our instrument and determine the best possible set of trait descriptors to include in ProScan. 

Recent multi-year studies resulted in 11 Exploratory Factor Analyses (EFA) and three Confirmatory Factor Analyses (CFA). CFAs are the gold standard in statistical evaluation and go a step beyond EFAs. Many companies stop at EFAs—if that—since attaining a CFA is a very involved process that few bother to complete. We’ve completed three CFAs to demonstrate repeated validation and to ensure that the ProScan Survey is valid and is the best instrument for business use.

Use Cases

DiSC Personality Test

The DiSC personality test is useful for personal development and self-knowledge, but it’s not ideal for use in the workplace as a pre-employment screening tool. DiSC-authorized partners explicitly caution against its use in hiring, one partner company noting that:

“Although DiSC® profiles are often used as part of the hiring and onboarding process, they're not recommended for pre-employment screening. DiSC does not measure specific skills, aptitudes, or other factors critical for a position; it describes one’s natural work behavior patterns or styles to help improve productivity, teamwork, and communication.”

PDP Behavioral Assessment

We designed PDP behavioral assessments as a full people management system from recruitment to retention. What makes PDP so strong for businesses in addition to our robust multi-year studies is because we’ve verified that our assessments correlate directly with job performance and are free of disparate impact

ProScan results can be coupled with JobScan to accurately predict job fit. By analyzing your current top performer’s behaviors and the behaviors that are desired for the role, our JobScan instrument builds a model of ideal behaviors. This customized job benchmark attracts candidates with the required behaviors for job success, so you get better-qualified candidates from the start. See how this call center reduced their interviewing time by 600% using our proven methods. 

Our suite of assessments are highly objective and without bias, also known as disparate impact, during the hiring process against protected classes like race, gender, or age. We further strengthen objectivity with certification courses that are Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant to reduce any bias that may occur through assessment implementation.

EEOC and ADA badges

The Center for Applied Psychology at the University of Colorado at Denver has validated our instruments, which all follow American Psychological Association standards. We also adhere to principles for the validation of personnel selection procedures by the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology.

Insights to Hire, Motivate, and Retain

PDP behavioral assessments give you the insights you need to create a productive work environment. Our system delivers results, including:

  • Decreasing employee turnover
  • Improving interviews and the selection of new employees
  • Reducing employee interpersonal conflicts
  • Boosting morale, job satisfaction, and sense of value
  • Building team communication and harmony
  • Enhancing employee satisfaction and morale
  • Uncovering employees operating in quiet quitting mode
  • Increasing productivity and profits
  • Standardizing the hiring process for efficiency
  • Matching people to the tasks that best fit them
  • Measuring employee stress so steps can be taken to reduce it
  • Identifying anyone near burnout to proactively address the situation

Use PDP to find the right talent for your roles and drive a high-performance culture. 

Request a demo and see how PDP’s behavioral assessments can impact your organization.

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Topics:PDP Research


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