Personality and behaviour are profoundly complex and intricate. There are 7.6 billion people on Earth. We all have our ways of thinking, behaving, communicating. We also have unique strengths, motivators and blindspots. So, how do we explain or quantify what makes each of us different? Personality and behaviour are so complex that psychologists uncover something new about how it works every day. The proliferation of modern-day assessment technology has undoubtedly made it easier to identify and understand the personality of the person standing next to us. While some assessment tools are more valid and reliable than others, they provide a great starting point to learn more about ourselves and others.
Two types of personality and behavioural models are DISC Assessments and the Enneagram test. These models provide us with different information regarding our personality and behavioural patterns. So, what makes them different and when is it best to use one or the other?
What is the Enneagram Personality Assessment?
The Enneagram personality assessment determines personality type by identifying an individual's core beliefs about the world and how that drives their motivators and fears.
Although the origins and history of the Enneagram personality assessment are a matter of dispute, contemporary assessments derive from the Bolivian psycho-spiritual teacher Oscar Ichazo (1931–2020) and the Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo (1932–2019).
According to the Enneagram test, there are nine categorisations of personalities. Each category consists of a different mixture of one's head, heart, and mind. Enneagram also identifies "wings," which help demonstrate the dimensions of personality. A wing is someone's secondary Enneagram type, as it's common for an individual to display characteristics from one primary type and share a few traits with another type. The Enneagram ultimately tells us which of these motivators or core values shape our worldview, guide our behaviours, and influence how we interact with those around us. The Enneagram provides people with a working guide to understanding their motivations, fears, and desires. Gaining an understanding of these areas can help with personal growth and self-awareness.
What is the DISC Personality Assessment?
The DISC personality assessment provides businesses with a framework to better understand the behaviour of themselves and others. Completing a DISC questionnaire provides people, teams and organisations with an understanding of their disc profile type including their natural tendencies, strengths, development areas, motivator, fears and much more.
DISC personality assessments are based on the behavioural theories of Carl Jung and William Moulton Marston and classify people into one of four behavioural types, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance, or more commonly, DISC. The four letters in the acronym represent a different type of personality style, also known as temperament or behavioural traits. They explain whether a person is extroverted or introverted and task or people-orientated or a combination of the characteristics.
Extended DISC personality assessments draw on these four factors to create 160 combinations of behavioural styles. The Extended DISC profile assessment test identifies a person's dominant and secondary types as most people show the characteristics of 2-3 types. They usually have one dominant style and share a few traits with another type, as well.
Furthermore, the Extended DISC model identifies a person's 'natural' and 'adjusted' behavioural style - something many profiling tools fail to do. This provides us with information on how we behave in the current environment compared to our natural style. From this information, we can ask questions such as am completing tasks outside of my natural style and how this impacts my stress levels?
DISC vs Enneagram
The questionnaire: The Extended DISC questionnaire is not arduous to complete. There are only 24 questions that take a respondent 8-12 minutes to complete. The questionnaire is a forced-choice ipsative style assessment that provides respondents with a statement, and they choose a set of words that is most like them or least like them. There are no right or wrong answers.
In comparison, there are many versions of the Enneagram test. Each provider offers a different questionnaire from others. There is also a mix of short and long versions of the questionnaire, ranging from approximately 36 questions to nearly 150 questions. The questionnaires tend to ask respondents to rate their agreement with a particular statement on a scale of 1-3 or 1-5. The variation in the questionnaires makes it very difficult to assess whether tests from different providers are more or less reliable than one another.
Validation: Although the reliability of the vast majority of DISC assessments' is questionable, the most reputable DISC personality assessments receive strong reliability and validity scores. Extended DISC assessments are among the most reliable, valid, and accurate DISC personality tools on the market. Scientifically backed through ReliaDATA, our validation and reliability measures, Extended DISC continually achieves the highest score across several validation and reliability measures.
Despite the ever increasing popularity of Enneagram in recent years, the tool has received criticism including accusations of being pseudoscience, subject to interpretation and difficult to test or validate scientifically. The lack of studies relating to Enneagram, means it lacks the psychological evidence to support the ways in which it categorises personality.
The personality types: Classic DISC assessments only include 4 to 16 types of behavioural styles, meaning respondents feel as though they've been put in a box. The problem with this is that information can be generic, and respondents may not relate entirely to their style. Furthermore, less than 1% of the population is only one style. Most people exhibit traits from 2-3 styles. The Extended DISC personality assessment recognises this issue in many DISC profiling tools and defines 160 types of behaviour.
The Enneagram personality assessment reports on nine basic types and 27 subtypes. So, respondents may find that their assigned type does not closely align with how they see themselves.
When to Use Each Tool?
When to use Enneagram
Enneagram's strengths lie in its ability to identify internal characteristics, and therefore has significant applications to personal growth and development. Enneagram is an effective way to observe your personality closely and gain a high level of self-understanding. Enneagram is best to use for self-help, counselling and relationship coaching. Although it helps us understand others to a certain degree, it isn't meant to predict others behaviours and actions.
When to use DISC
In comparison, DISC personality assessments are a great tool for the business world. DISC is highly popular among coaches, consultants, and trainers due to it's simplicity and validity. DISC is most useful in when developing behaviours in areas such as sales or leadership. Unlike Enneagram it is a great predictor of behaviour and is therefore used prevalently in recruitment. DISC is also applicable to team and relationship coaching to help people develop a shared understanding of one another and why they take particular actions in certain situations.
Personality assessments such as the Enneagram or DISC personality test provide great tools for self-understanding. DISC takes this one step further and helps us understand why people act, behave, and communicate in certain ways. Each personality tool provides significant purpose in using personality to improve self development.