William Marston: Wonder Woman’s Creator Also Gave the World DISC

There certainly is a huge buzz about Wonder Woman, the Amazonian princess who is one of the major superheroes in the DC Comics universe. Thanks to actress Gal Gadot, director Patty Jenkins, and scriptwriter Allan Heinberg, she’s now become one of the most successful superheroes to hit the box office.

The Creation Unfolds

When introduced in 1941, Wonder Woman was a rare example of a strong female heroine who didn’t need a man to save her. Later, she came out as bisexual and has become a symbol for both women’s rights and the LGBT community. She’s unique in another way: her creator, William Marston, was not the typical comic book writer or artist.

Unlike the industry hall of fame comic-book writers, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, William Marston was a psychologist. Marston went to Harvard for his education, graduating in 1921 with a Ph.D. in psychology, followed by teaching positions at both American University and Tufts University. During the 1920s and 1930s, he published a number of different research papers and books, including Emotions of Normal People, where he laid out his theory of human behavior that would eventually be used for DiSC. 

The Beginnings of Wonder Woman

Marston was interviewed in a Family Circle Magazine article where he discussed his belief that comic books could be used for educational purposes. This article brought him to the attention of Max Gaines, a comic book publisher, who hired Marston to serve as an educational consultant for what would become DC Comics.

Marston suggested the company introduce a hero who saved the day with love and compassion rather than by fighting. With his wife Elizabeth’s suggestion, they created a strong female lead character. In a time where women’s rights were challenged, he planted a seed of gender equality and created a symbol of women’s empowerment.

Marston and DiSC Theory

While Wonder Woman may be Marston’s most well known creation, especially among the general public, many psychologists know him more as one of the fathers of DiSC. His interest in this area can be traced back to 1924 when he began looking at concepts of will and power, and how they affected personality and behavior. Four years later, he published Emotions of Normal People and laid out what he believed were the four basic behavior types: Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance. From these theories of behavior, they eventually came to be adopted and built into the DISC Personality Profile Test.

Marston believed that the basis of all four behaviors had to do with the environment around the person. It all depended on whether they saw their environment as being favorable or as being unfavorable, and if they had control over that environment. In 1931, he elaborated on his theory even more in his book DISC, Integrative Psychology. While Marston didn’t outline the modern DiSC profile or discuss DISC training or DISC testing, all of his work laid the foundation for these tools.

Later, Walter Clarke would take Marston’s ideas and create an assessment tool that could be used to create a profile of a person’s personality.

DISC and Wonder Woman

Marston’s work on DISC is reflected in Wonder Woman, too. Her dominance over her environment, her influence over others, her steadiness when faced with adversity, and her compliance with the laws and morals can all be linked to DiSC theory.

Both Wonder Woman and DiSC can be summed up with one of Marston’s most famous quotes: “Every crisis offers you extra desired power.” With DiSC, every crisis gives a person a chance to gain more control over their environment by adapting to a situation or experience or by Influencing the outcome.

Wonder Woman also illustrates this quote in both the comics and in the movie. In the film, her adversary, Ares, appears to be much more powerful than the hero. Then comes a point of crisis: <Spoiler Alert!> trapped, Wonder Woman is forced to watch her friend and love interest Steve Trevor sacrifice himself to destroy a plane full of poison. This gives her the desired power she needs to defeat Ares and save the day.

Why DiSC® is Valuable to Growing Companies

DiSC can be very useful to growing companies and teams by providing ways to effectively handle communication with different personality styles. With miscommunication often being the root of conflict, it can be one of the biggest contributors to lost productivity.

DiSC training can help team leaders solve these issues of miscommunication by creating a more cohesive work environment and enabling each team member to learn how to better communicate, leading the team come to a consensus on decisions more quickly.

How DiSC is a Superpower

DiSC training can turn any facilitator, team leader, or supervisor into a superhero by giving them the tools they need to handle miscommunication or conflict. By using the DiSC assessments, a team leader can better understand each team member and facilitate understanding between team members.

Of course, it’s important to remember that DiSC, like superpowers, can be used for evil, too. The DiSC model shouldn’t be used to classify people as hero or villain.

Using DiSC for good allows supervisors to create scenarios that can help motivate their employees and bring them together as a cohesive, efficient team. Doing so can improve productivity and lead to innovative ideas, and more.

Did you notice the change to a small “i” in DiSC? That’s because we’re referring to the Everything DiSC® family of profiles published by Wiley. These profiles are simple to use and supported by years of research.

Are you ready to learn more about DiSC training? If so, contact us today to learn about Everything DiSC Profiles and how they can help you manage your employees.

Webinar Recording – July 27, 2:00 PM ET – You’ve Hired The Best, Now What? PXT Select™

PXT Select™ is a new, easy to use online hiring assessment that makes hiring simpler and smarter.  PXT Select will help you select and compare the best candidates for your organization.

Join us this month to continue your discovery of PXT Select .
Last month we covered the history and methodology used to develop PXT Select and how it helps you get a clear picture of a candidate’s verbal skill, verbal reasoning, numerical ability, numerical reasoning, behavioral traits and interests.

In this month’s Webinar we’ll cover the importance of onboarding and supporting new hires and how PXT Select helps you:

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  • Coach and develop your new employees

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