What do Professor Marston and Wonder Woman have to do with DISC Profiles?

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women hits theaters tomorrow. It’s a movie that hasn’t generated a lot of buzz among typical moviegoers, but has generated a tremendous amount of interest among a few select groups, including several I belong to…

Nerds. I’m a nerd at heart. As a matter of fact, I sold my first comic book collection to pay for my undergrad schooling (I still weep over that sometimes). Professor Marston is perhaps best known as the creator of Wonder Woman.

Leadership Experts. A crap ton of people have taken DISC personality profile tests. I use them all the time with my own coaching clients and love using them to address groups when I do consulting work. Professor Marston was the creator of the DISC.

*In case you’re wondering, a crap ton is a real measurement, as in Wonder Woman can lift 15 of them.

I’m excited about the movie, as it will present a visual peek into his life and his work. If you use DISC profiles as well, you should enjoy it as well, as it will provide insight into their creation.

I’d like to give you a little background on Dr. Marston so you go into the theater fully prepared.

Dr. William Moulton Marston, who passed away in 1947, was a psychologist, self-help author, and comic book writer. Like me, he assembled a body of research that bridged the gaps between seemingly unrelated areas. Some of my research into cognitive psychology has been incorporated into books in areas ranging from theology to Game of Thrones.

Marston invented an early prototype of a lie detector machine. It wasn’t as cool or perfect as the one Wonder Woman carried.  Her Lasso of Truth never failed to produce results, but, of course, it was magic. Even so, at the time, Marston’s machine seemed like magic.

A 1928 paper title Emotions of Normal People discussed Marston’s DISC theory. Originally the four axes were…

  • Dominance produces activity in an antagonistic environment
  • Inducement produces activity in a favorable environment
  • Submission produces passivity in a favorable environment
  • Compliance produces passivity in an antagonistic environment.

The original notions of his DISC theory haven’t changed over the years, but the wording we use to describe them has. For example, with the system I use, the wording is much more expressive. Check out the image below. It expresses the total workforce of a company I consulted with.


Although his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston went largely uncredited for her work because of the roles of women at the time, she contributed greatly to  many of his endeavors. Due to her influence and those of his mistress, Marston was a huge supporter of feminism and women’s rights. It was his wife’s idea to create a female superhero.

Of her creation Marston wrote, “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. 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.”

There’s so much more, but not enough space here to tell it all. I highly recommend the movie and the recent Wonder Woman movie as well. Just know going into this movie that it will deal with some adult elements. As far as I can tell, both his wife and mistress were friends and knew all about each other. I don’t want to ruin anything for you, though, so I’ll stop there.

PS…If you want to take a peek at my DISC results, you’ll have to leave a comment below.

This message was written by a team of geeks, nerds, gamers, and Dr. David Powers. You can always find us at www.callsignredbeard.com. Thanks for reading!

In the words of Starship Troopers, “Would you like to know more?”





One Comment

  1. I love this post. As a full-on DISC Geek/Nerd I love that pop culture is starting to recognize the work of Dr. William Marston. I’m looking forward to the movie!

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