DISC is the evolution of the observation of human behavior through thinkers of all ages
The observation and study of human behavior are as ancient as humanity itself. Throughout history, numerous thinkers have pondered why people act the way they do, noticing common behaviors among different types of individuals. Many of these early philosophers and scholars laid the groundwork for modern theories and principles of human behavior. The DISC language, a contemporary framework for understanding behavior, also emerged from similar observations.
Historically, the quest to understand human behavior has been a central theme in various disciplines, ranging from philosophy and psychology to sociology and anthropology. Ancient civilizations, including the Greeks and Egyptians, delved into the nature of human actions and motivations, seeking to understand the essence of what drives individuals. In these early stages, much of the exploration was philosophical, with thinkers like Aristotle and Plato offering theories about human nature and conduct.
Empedocles, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, proposed a theory of four classical elements that he believed constituted the physical universe: earth, air, fire, and water. While Empedocles himself did not directly apply these elements to personality theories as we understand them today, his ideas laid the groundwork for later conceptions of personality in ancient medicine and philosophy.
Hippocrates, often called the “Father of Medicine,” is known for his influential theories on bodily humors, which he extended to explain personality traits.
Hippocrates’ theory on personality, rooted in the concept of four bodily humors, linked individual temperaments to the balance of these fluids. The sanguine temperament, associated with blood, described individuals as sociable, optimistic, and active, reflecting a carefree and impulsive nature, much like the element of air. In contrast, the choleric temperament, linked to yellow bile, characterized people as fiery, passionate, and ambitious, often assertive and dominant, akin to the fire element.
On the other hand, black bile was associated with the melancholic temperament, depicting individuals as introspective, thoughtful, and prone to somberness, often analytical and detail-oriented, mirroring the earth element. Lastly, the phlegmatic temperament, connected to phlegm, described people as calm, reliable, and relaxed, typically passive and consistent, similar to the water element. These humors were believed to influence physical health and emotional disposition, forming the basis of Hippocrates’ understanding of personality.
Galen, an influential Greek physician and philosopher, expanded upon Hippocrates’ theory of the four humors, linking them more explicitly to personality types. Galen’s theory suggested that the balance or imbalance of these humors in the body influenced not only physical health but also psychological traits and temperaments.
In Galen’s theory of the four humors, each humor corresponds to a distinct personality type: Sanguine individuals, influenced by blood, are typically optimistic, sociable, and enthusiastic, yet can be impulsive. Choleric personalities, associated with yellow bile, are passionate, ambitious, and assertive leaders, but often quick-tempered. Those with a melancholic temperament, influenced by black bile, are introspective and analytical, but may tend towards anxiety and sadness. Lastly, phlegmatic individuals, governed by phlegm, are calm, reliable, and rational, known for their peacemaking abilities, though sometimes seen as unambitious and resistant to change.
Galen’s interpretation of the humors had a significant and lasting impact on medieval and Renaissance medicine and psychology. His work influenced the understanding of personality well into the 18th century, linking physical health with psychological well-being and personality traits.
Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types is a cornerstone of his analytical psychology. He proposed that differences in behavior result from individuals’ inherent preferences in how they perceive the world and make decisions. Jung identified two primary dichotomies of cognitive functions:
Additionally, Jung introduced the concepts of Extraversion and Introversion as attitudes that influence the direction of these cognitive functions. Extraverts are oriented outward, towards the external world, drawing energy from interaction and action. Introverts are oriented inward, towards the internal world, gaining energy from reflection and solitude.
These cognitive functions and attitudes combine to form different personality types. For instance, an individual might be an extroverted thinker, an introverted feeler, and so on. Jung’s psychological types provided a framework for understanding the diverse ways people perceive the world and make decisions.