The Emotions of Normal People

In 1928, William Moulton Marston published The Emotions of Normal People, based on his theory of human personality divided into four quadrants: dominance, inducement, submission and compliance.

Marston is best known for the application of this theory to the science of "deception testing". Marston believed that the tension between these pairs in any given situation was likely to generate sufficient anxiety to register on a mechanical device. Accordingly histories of the Lie Detector, polygraph or psychograph credit Marston with its demonstration and popularisation, especially through his brief engagement with Hollywood, his popular publications, and his work in and for women's magazines.

In the book, Marston applies his theory to international relations and pedagogy, as well as to the conduct of personal affairs, and he urged psychologists to attend to the task of re-educating humans to accept their own normalcy.


Thus human beings, by adhering to the general type of observable behaviour in their own group, learn to regard more than one half of their normal selves as abnormal. In order to continue to be thought normal, they must continue to regard their own natural, secret behaviour as abnormal. Moreover, though they may have a shrewd suspicion that other members of their particular group are behaving in secret very like themselves, they quickly learn to regard such secret normalcy of their fellows, whenever discovered, as disgustingly abnormal also.

Upon learning that neighbour John Smith is secretly enjoying a true love relationship with a woman who could not advantageously be presented as Mrs. Smith, each secretly normal individual quickly denounces Smith's conduct with all the virulence at his command. Another stone has been added to the burden of abnormality under which humanity is labouring.

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Marston's theory of normal human emotional behaviours became the basis of DISC model personality testing, although in current use the terms have been adjusted*, while retaining the acronym.

*One reason for this is probably Marston's research practices, involving the close analysis of sorority girls and hazing rituals.