Psychology Central

Psychology is the hub of the system of profound of knowledge

by Ed Carpenter

W. Edwards Deming’s system of profound knowledge is composed of four segments of knowledge:

  1. Knowledge of a system.
  2. Knowledge of variation.
  3. Theory of knowledge.
  4. Knowledge of psychology.

Profound knowledge must reside in and be developed, passed along and applied by people. Understanding how people work is the purview of psychology—hence, psychology is the hub of the system of profound knowledge. 

Figure 1

Business and quality always come down to people. Knowledge of psychology is essential. Deming identified that all of these segments are interrelated. Figure 1 illustrates the centrality of psychology due to the centrality of people in the system of knowledge.

Behavior classification

How can we get practical with psychology in our businesses? There is a segment of psychology that has proven productive in business but is not discussed often in quality circles: personality profiles.

Because you cannot measure a person’s personality, it is better referred to as behavior-style analysis. I propose it be called behavior-style taxonomy because it categorizes people respective to their behavior styles.

In behavior-style analysis, observable behaviors are compared. Reliability and validity of this psychology discipline has been verified by numerous studies, including those conducted by the modern father of this discipline, William Moulton Marston. Marston identified four behavior styles, often referred to as DISC:

  1. Dominance: relating to control, power and assertiveness.
  2. Influence: relating to social situations and communication.
  3. Steadiness (submission): relating to patience, persistence and thoughtfulness.
  4. Conscientiousness (caution or compliance): relating to structure and organization.1

DISC assessments classify these four aspects of behavior by testing a person’s preferences via word association. There are varied combinations of the four behavior styles in the population. Only a small percentage of the population are "pure, high" D, I, S or C.

Assessment reports describe how these combinations give rise to certain behaviors in people orientation, task orientation and pace. They also describe the practical identification of value to the organization and how a person prefers to communicate.

The application of DISC assessments can be remarkable. A team can enhance its appreciation of individual contributions and learn to value the contributions of their behavior-style counterparts.              

With behavior-style knowledge, those formulating teams can ensure an effective mix of behavior styles. For example, if there is a concentration of high Cs on a team designing software, the software may be powerful respective to its outputs. But, the less-technical graphics interface for the common user may suffer due to the absence of high I and high S inputs, which could consequently impact sales.

Reaping the benefits

There are many benefits of using and applying DISC analysis. One of the most recent notable DISC investigators, Bill Bonnstetter, identified the following benefits:

  • Gaining commitment and cooperation.
  • Building effective teams.
  • Resolving and preventing conflict.
  • Gaining endorsement.2

Knowledge of psychology may be a place for the quality profession to focus as we spread the quality message and tools. It’s often said that the language of management is money. With that in mind, we may further enhance our impact on business by applying the universal language of DISC.


  1. "DISC assessment," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DISC_assessment (case sensitive).
  2. Bill Bonnstetter, The Universal Language DISC, Targeted Training International, 1993, p. 17.

Ed Carpenter is president of TREQ Corp. in Athens, AL. He also has done adjunct teaching at Motlow State Community College in Lynchburg, TN, and Calhoun College in Alabama. He earned a doctorate in engineering management from Warren National University in Cheyenne, WY. An ASQ senior member, Carpenter has served two terms as the chair of his local ASQ section and is an ASQ-certified manager of quality and organizational excellence.

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this article

Add Comments

View comments
Comments FAQ

Featured advertisers