William Moulton Marston, born in 1893, was a man of many talents, best known for his contributions to psychology, including the creation of the DISC theory. However, his life was far from ordinary, and he was also a lawyer, writer, inventor, and feminist. Marston's contributions to psychology have had a profound impact on modern-day behavioral assessments, and his work has helped individuals, businesses, and organizations worldwide understand the importance of identifying and utilizing their unique personality traits.
Marston's early career as an academic, philosopher, and lawyer led him to explore the relationship between personality and behavior. He became interested in the concepts of a person's will, sense of power, and the effect this has on personality and human behavior. During his research, he discovered a correlation between a person's sense of power and their personality style, which ultimately led to the development of the DISC theory.
Marston's DISC theory divides personality traits into four categories: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Compliance (C). According to Marston, each individual has a unique blend of these traits that influences their behavior and decision-making. The DISC theory has been widely recognized in the field of psychology and is used as a tool for understanding an individual's behavior and communication style.
Marston's first book, "Emotions of Normal People," published in 1928, introduced the world to the DISC theory. In this book, Marston explains the four behavioral types, their strengths, and their weaknesses, and discusses how these behavioral types influence human behavior. He published a second book in 1931 titled, "DISC, Integrative Psychology," which further expanded on the DISC theory and its applications.
Although Marston did not develop the actual DISC Test, DISC Assessment, or DISC Profile, his findings in these two books about the measure of human behavior and consciousness led to the theory behind the later development of the actual test. The DISC profile is now widely used by businesses and organizations worldwide to improve communication and teamwork, increase sales effectiveness, and build strong relationships with clients and customers.
Marston's legacy also includes his invention of the Polygraph Machine, also known as the Lie Detector. During his early studies, Marston discovered a correspondence between telling a lie and a rise in blood pressure. He went on to build a device that would measure changes in a person's blood pressure as they were being asked certain questions. Marston published his findings in 1917, after he had constructed the first polygraph machine in 1915. During the 1920s and 30s, William Marston was an active lecturer and consultant with government groups. The federal government paid attention to his research, and he offered his services with the polygraph machine and general lie detection during the 1930s kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby.
In addition to his work in psychology and invention of the lie detector, Marston is also known for creating the character of Wonder Woman for DC Comics. He was involved with the earliest movements for women's rights, including issues of voting and career equality. With this in mind, Marston created Wonder Woman to serve as a symbol of power and strength for women. In a 1943 issue of "The American Scholar," Marston wrote, "Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."
William Marston passed away on May 2, 1947, at the age of 53 due to cancer. While he didn't live to see the full impact of his work, his theories and research have continued to shape psychology and self-awareness to this day. His creation of the DISC theory has influenced a wide range of fields, from education and management to personal development and interpersonal communication. Today, DISC assessments and profiles are commonly used by organizations and individuals to gain insights into their personality and behavior, helping them to communicate more effectively, resolve conflicts, and improve their performance.
In conclusion, William Marston was a multifaceted and visionary thinker whose contributions to psychology and society continue to be felt today. His creation of the DISC theory was one of the most influential works of his career, and it has become a cornerstone of personality assessment and self-awareness. Beyond that, his life and work were emblematic of a bold and unconventional spirit, which challenged societal norms and paved the way for greater freedom and understanding. Marston's legacy is a testament to the power of imagination, inquiry, and the courage to think differently.