What is PDA?

The PDA system is a powerful tool that, based on the ‘Theory of Personality’ by William M Marston described in his book Emotions of Normal People (1928), has been specifically developed to analyse the Natural Behavioural Profile of individuals and their potential.
The PDA Assessment is a powerful tool that, through a simple, accurate and scientific method, allows you to describe and analyse the behavioural profile of an individual. It also allows you to evaluate the behavioural demands of a position and to compare those demands with an individual thereby enhancing the HR process.
Categories of behaviour that can be observed and labelled are surface aspects. When measured in a reliable way, observers readily identify what they are and the extent to which they exist. Surface aspects describe behaviour. Internal characteristics that direct behaviours are called core aspects.
When the measurement is focused on surface aspects of personality, it is enough to establish a consensus about the meaning of the aspects and to measure them appropriately. When the measurement is centred on core aspects of personality, additional external information should be gathered to support those measurements. However, there is the possibility that this external information is not strong enough to support validity.
The PDA Assessment is designed to measure surface aspects – behaviours that can be easily observed and described. Each behaviour dimension – Risk, Extroversion, Patience, Norms and Self-control – is reliably measured by virtue of the internal matrix and algorithms within the instrument.
It analyses strengths, indicates areas for development, competencies, decision making style, leadership style, and takes into account some key aspects regarding how to coach individuals, energy level, ability to persuade, analytical capacities, sales style, motivation level, among other information that adds great value to any process for the development of people and organisations.
Completing the PDA Form normally takes between 10-15 minutes and produces immediate results. It highlights the behavioural predispositions of the individual in a variety of areas together with the behavioural requirements of the job/position as seen by the person. The PDA Assessment produces an objective description of the ‘behavioural profile’ of an individual, detailing:
• Leadership Style
• Decision-making Style
• How to lead them successfully
• Ability to persuade
• Analytical capacities
• Business skills
• Motivation level
• Strengths
• Development recommendations
The PDA Assessment does not qualify Behavioural Profiles as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ It describes the behavioural characteristics of the individual assessed. In the case of generating a compatibility study between a Candidate/Employee and a position, it simply describes and details the strengths and possible weaknesses.
This manual was specifically developed for Certified PDA Analysts. It will guide you on the road to the successful application, administration and interpretation of the information that the methodology provides both for the analysis of individuals and of groups of people and teams.


Life & Career
Born in Saugus, Massachusetts, USA, he completed his studies at Harvard University in 1921 with a PhD in Psychology. He worked as a professor at the American University in Washington, DC and Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He also worked at Universal Studios, California, as Director of Public Services.
Psychologist & Inventor
Marston is credited with many publicly known inventions. He is recognized as the inventor of the Polygraph, also known as ‘lie detector’ in 1920 by developing a systolic blood pressure meter which was the foundation of this invention. As a result and in recognition of this invention, he worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for almost 5 years.
He is considered to be the father and inventor of ‘Wonder Woman,’ which years later was brought to the screens of Hollywood. Marston developed this topic based on his studies that stated as a principle that women are significantly more honest and credible than men and that they can work faster and more effectively for longer periods of time.
For the development of the methodology, Marston based it essentially on the following theories and concepts
1) Marston´s Structure of Personality:
Was established in his theory of personality explained in the manuscript Emotions of Normal People (1928); Marston defines that human behaviour can be described by analysing two main axes: 1) proactive – or reactive – response of individuals; he explains that the individual’s response to environmental stimuli depends largely based on ‘how the individual tends to perceive the environment.’ 2) Perception of the environment as Favourable or Unfavourable, therefore generating four quadrants.
As an overview…
• People will perceive the situations of the environment as favourable or unfavourable.
• Individuals’ reactions to any stimulus in the environment will tend to be proactive (by approaching the stimuli) or reactive (by being receptive of the stimuli or by avoiding it).
• Individuals have an amount of energy or tendency to be ready to act, which is relatively constant.
Based on these statements, Marston developed a simple quadrant model that has been used to classify, understand and analyse human behaviour. This quadrant, since 1948, has been constantly researched and improved.
According to the three components mentioned before, Marston considered that under normal circumstances an individual has a predisposition to behave in predictable ways, depending on the nature of the situation; how he/she perceives them – favourable or unfavourable –, and the individual’s response tendencies to take action over the stimuli or not – proactive or reactive –. The tendencies define the model of the four quadrants.
This model of personality consists of four unipolar, independent factors. Marston developed a spherical geometrical model to represent these structures.
The tendency of an individual to act is represented within four axes, each of which represents one of Marston’s four personality styles., which are conceptually and statistically independent of each other.

2)Theory of Self (Prescott Lecky, 1920; 1930):
This states that human beings, –from birth and up to 16 or 18 years old– develop a relatively stable self-perception as a result of their experiences. At the same time, a person will develop a certain self-expectation of what he/she perceives the environment requires from them.
Marston believed that behaviour is determined, in part, by the interaction between the self-concept and the permanent adjustments made as a response to the demands of the situations.
3) Theory of Self-Consistency:
This states that people tend to accept and assimilate ideas and/or concepts that are perceived as consistent with what they believe; and they tend to deny and reject those ideas and/or concepts that are perceived as inconsistent with what they believe. This defines the following bases:
• A human mind is a unit, an organised system of ideas.
• All ideas that belong to the system should be consistent with one another.
• The core of the human mind is the concept of self, or self-concept.
4) Theory of Perception:
This explains the way we identify, individualise and interpret the world around us.
• Selective attention to stimuli.
• The organization of our perceptions.
• Interpreting experiences in order for them to make sense.
5) Semantics Study:
• The study of language and use of words.
• Uses non-abstract and behaviourally explicit descriptions.
• The properties of 3000 words were studied.
• Degrading words were eliminated.
• The sample was reduced to 86 words.
The interpretation that each person gives to every one of the words on the PDA Form will be in accordance as to how they perceive it, as each person’s perception differs, depending on their behavioural profile. Depending on their self-concept, individuals will perceive and give positive or negative values to the words by accepting or rejecting them when completing the PDA Form.
Marston based his research in studying human behaviours observed under circumstances which he considered as normal. From the concept, he developed a methodology to assess individuals and to describe particular behaviours. This methodology was not registered as a trademark but has been widely used as a base of newly developed tools and assessments. These tools were developed with a focus on the advantages and benefits that this methodology provided in both the military and the workplace. The tools that arrived in the earlier stages are called ‘pure’ tools because they strictly follow Marston’s theory and proposed methodology.
Large amounts of data were gathered by applying this methodology. But, the mathematical operations that had to be done and the process that was undertaken by the analyst, from the moment a person completed the evaluation form until the results were obtained, demanded a lot of time and the analysis and behavioural interpretations were extremely complex. It took a certified analyst for approximately one hour and thirty minutes from the time the evaluation was finished until the results were determined.
In the late 60’s, Dr John Geier, University of Minnesota, conducted research based on Marston’s theoretical model and concepts. This study aimed at reducing the time that the analyst had to spend in the mathematical process by simplifying the form, its application and the following analysis. As a simplification and synthesis of Marston’s model, John Geier developed the DiSC pattern methodology which is far removed from being a pure tool.

Since the early 90’s, with advances in technology, the ability for every HR employee to have easy access to assessment forms, their results, reports and graphs were dramatically increased. The mathematical process, having been computerised, meant the benefits from the full-length ‘pure’ model were more readily accessible and considerably enhanced, far beyond the original DiSC model-based simplified results.

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