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The DISC Psychometric Journal

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The Twelve Standard DISC Sub-traits

A vital DISC analysis tool

Published: Tuesday 20 February 2024

The four DISC factors provide a useful way of summarising a profile, but we can use more advanced techniques to understand a DISC profile shape at a deeper level. For a full interpretation of a profile shape, DISC provides a useful technique for quickly extracting even more sophisticated information from a graph, a technique known as 'sub-trait analysis'.

'Sub-traits' describe the relationships between different pairs of factors within a single profile graph. Because there are twelve possible pairs of DISC factors (D and I, D and S, D and C, and so on), there are twelve corresponding sub-traits. Each of these pairs of factors is given a meaningful name to help relate it to some particular style of behaviour.

Dominance on a DISC Graph

As an example, take the sub-trait 'Efficiency', which describes the relationship between Dominance and Influence. Sub-traits are typically described in shorthand with a slash ('/') sign, so 'D/I' (pronounced 'D over I') describes the sub-trait of Efficiency. You'll see a graphical representation of this relationships in the example on the right.

To measure the amount of a sub-trait in a particular profile, look at the relationship between the two factors it describes. In the example shown here, Dominance is very high, while Influence is low. This means that this profile contains high levels of Efficiency (we say 'D is over I'). If the opposite were the case (high Influence and low Dominance, or 'I over D') Efficiency would be very low in the profile. In this case, the profile would describe a 'Friendly' individual.

As we said, there are twelve possible combinations of factors in a DISC graph, each with its own attendant sub-trait. Remember that any given profile can contain more than one sub-trait - as well as Efficiency, for example, the profile illustrated above also contains 'Self-motivation' (D/S) and 'Independence' (D/C).


You can find a fuller version of this article, with links to details of each of the twelve sub-traits, as part of the complete guide on the Discus Online site:

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