Current Events and the Psychology of Politics
Loading

Featured Posts        



categories        



Links        



archives        



meta        





Research paper


The Political Personality of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, May 2017. Abstract and link for full-text (19 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/118/


Abstract

The research paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of U.S. vice president Mike Pence, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon. Information concerning Pence was collected from biographical sources and media reports and synthesized into a personality profile using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM-5.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Pence’s primary personality pattern was found to be Conscientious/dutiful, complemented by secondary Dominant/asserting, Ambitious/confident, and Accommodating/cooperative features and a minor Outgoing/congenial tendency.

With the exception of the outgoing tendency, Pence’s profile is nearly identical to that of the more introverted 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has a minor Retiring/reserved tendency.

In the absence of concurrent primary personality patterns serving to moderate or offset high conscientiousness, Pence may be described as a dutiful conformist personality type with a conscientious deliberator leadership style. Leaders with this personality profile are characteristically prudent, proper, dignified, dependable, and more principled than most personality types. They are highly organized, with a strong work ethic and careful attention to detail. Dutiful and diligent, conscientious leaders excel in crafting public policy, though they are not typically regarded as visionary or transformational leaders.

The major implication of the study is that it offers an empirically based personological framework for identifying psychological attributes on the part of Pence that might serve to complement, amplify, or attenuate personality traits that drive President Donald Trump’s leadership behavior as chief executive.

Olivia Musser, Lauren Lingenfelter, Claudia Luther, and Greta Schleif present “The Personality Profile of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence” at the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn., April 27, 2017.
Olivia Musser, Lauren Lingenfelter, Claudia Luther, and Greta Schleif present “The Personality Profile of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence” at the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn., April 27, 2017.


 

Topical report

Trump, Twitter Fingers Flying, Exclaims. Pence, Note Cards in Hand, Explains.


Vice President Mike Pence at the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, on Saturday, April 14, 2018. He stepped in for President Trump at the summit meeting, an increasingly common role for Mr. Pence as the president appears not to relish international travel. (Photo credit: Juan Pabo Azabache / Associated Press via The New York Times)

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis

April 15, 2018

Excerpts

LIMA, Peru — As President Trump was tweeting “Mission Accomplished!” on Saturday morning after the strikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities, Vice President Mike Pence was tackling what has become a familiar task: translating his boss’s outbursts into carefully honed language that could reassure world leaders and the public. …

It was the latest instance of Mr. Pence — as earnest, conventional and on-message a politician as Mr. Trump is irreverent, unorthodox and unscripted — working to smooth the rough edges of a president who routinely draws controversy. …

In Lima, armed with a thick binder of briefing materials, Mr. Pence delivered meticulously scripted statements printed on cards that he toted around the summit meeting site and read from faithfully, hitting on his main theme of preserving the region as a “hemisphere of freedom,” a phrase he repeated at least three times in his closing remarks. …

Mr. Pence’s disciplined delivery of the American message after the Syria strikes stood in contrast to the presidential tweet, which recalled an earlier president’s premature declaration of victory in Iraq and prompted a spate of bitter criticism. …

Full report

 


 

Related reports on this site

The Personality Profile of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (April 28, 2017)

Pence poster
Click on image for larger view

The Personality Profile of 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney (June 2, 2011)

Romney poster (2013)
Click on image for larger view



The Political Personality of 2020

Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris

September 1, 2020

A psychological analysis of U.S. senator Kamala Harris — Democratic vice-presidential nominee in the 2020 U.S. presidential election — by Anne Marie Griebie, Yitao Zhang, and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics revealed that Sen. Harris’s primary personality pattern is Dominant/asserting, complemented by secondary Ambitious/confident and Outgoing/congenial patterns. Typologically, Harris may be characterized as a high-dominance charismatic.

Presidential Electability Index range: 22-36


Click on image for larger view

Abstract

The poster presents the the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of U.S. senator Kamala Harris, Democratic vice-presidential nominee in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.

Psychodiagnostically relevant data about Harris were collected from biographical sources and media reports and synthesized into a personality profile using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with DSM-III-R, DSM-IV, and DSM-5.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed in accordance with interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Harris’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant/asserting (a measure of aggressiveness), complemented by secondary Ambitious/confident and Outgoing/congenial patterns — measures of narcissism and extraversion, respectively.

In summary, Harris’s personality composite can be characterized as high-dominance charismatic — charismatic by virtue of the elevated Ambitious–Outgoing amalgam.

Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they are tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and sometimes act as though entitled. Outgoing individuals are dramatic attention-getters who thrive on being the center of social events, go out of their way to be popular with others, and have confidence in their social abilities.

Harris’s major personality strengths in a political role are her confident assertiveness and personal charisma. Her major personality-based shortcoming is likely to be a predisposition to occasional lapses in emotional restraint or self-discipline.


Research paper

The Political Personality of 2020 Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, September 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (26 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/131/



Annie Griebie concisely explains the conceptual framework, methodology, and results of the assessment of Sen. Kamala Harris’s personality and leadership style. (9:53)


 

Topical report

Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris as VP candidate ‘unprecedented’ (William Roberts, Al Jazeera, Aug. 11, 2020) — Biden is an outgoing and accommodating personality, which should allow him to mesh well with Harris, said Aubrey Immelman, a professor of political psychology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota. His deliberation and thoughtful process suggest Biden was able to develop “personal chemistry” with her. It is quite likely as well that Harris’s friendship with Biden’s late son Beau also helped. And she may well have been a consensus pick among his close advisers, including his wife Jill Biden, as well as Barack and Michelle Obama. “Metaphorically, Biden is led more by ‘heart’ than by ‘head’,” Immelman told Al Jazeera.


 

Update: October 7, 2020

As VP Debate Nears, Experts View Kamala Harris’s Personality

John Martin-Joy M.D.

Psychology Today
October 5, 2020

Excerpts

In the vice-presidential debate on October 7, Harris will go up against sitting vice president Mike Pence [link added].

Yet in contrast to Donald Trump [link added], little has been said about Kamala Harris by mental health professionals. What is known about her personality? …

In the world of personality assessment, psychologist Aubrey Immelman of the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University has been researching and rating candidates for decades. Drawing on the work of Theodore Millon [link added], Immelman and his group have developed a personality metric that uses open sources and empirical ratings to assess, at a distance, the personality of major presidential candidates, “as publicly perceived.” …

How does Harris look to Immelman?

In her empirical ratings, Harris scored highly on the traits of “dominant,” “narcissistic/confident,” and “outgoing.” This assertive and charismatic pattern, Immelman predicted last year [link added], made Harris, with Biden, one of the top two most electable candidates then running in the Democratic primary. (Outgoing, dominant candidates often do better than conscientious/dutiful ones, who may have trouble “reading” others and are less happy while working the room.)

As Biden’s ratings show, he too is outgoing. But he emerges as more of an accommodator or conciliator than Harris. How would the two get along in office?

In a recent e-mail interview, Immelman told me that if Harris is elected as vice president, Harris might well outshine Biden. More ambitious than he is, Harris “may play a prominent role” in any Biden administration. Indeed, Immelman ventures to suggest that the “cooperative and loyal” Biden is better suited to being vice president than president. …

What about the upcoming vice presidential debate between Harris and Mike Pence? Immelman cautions that he had less information to work with in assessing Pence. But the vice president’s ratings show high scores on conscientiousness.

Pence’s major asset in the debate, Immelman predicts, “will be his attention to detail” in articulating and supporting Trump’s positions.

A conscientious style may be helpful in office, Immelman said, especially in the executive branch. But it is not so helpful in campaigning. A conscientious personality can come across as rigid, preachy, and even boring—a potential hazard for the vice president on October 7.

“I think Harris will have the edge,” Immelman told me. In his view, Harris’s gregarious personality, confidence, and dominance are likely to throw the cautious Pence off guard. This will be especially true if the debate is “free-wheeling” and “less structured” in format.

Despite his findings, Immelman acknowledges some uncertainty. “The area that gives me the most pause,” said Immelman, is that Harris “is somewhat lacking in ‘gravitas’ – a shortcoming not evident in Pence. Harris sometimes has a slightly unserious tone, even when addressing serious matters.” For Immelman, this makes for incongruence between the content of what Harris says and the facial expression and body language he employs when she says it.

Full report at Psychology Today



The Political Personality of 2020

Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden

August 18, 2020

A psychological analysis of former U.S. vice president Joe Biden — Democratic nominee in the 2020 U.S. presidential election — by Anne Marie Griebie, Kiara Westendorf, Yitao Zhang, and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics revealed that Vice President Biden’s primary personality pattern is Outgoing/gregarious, complemented by a secondary Accommodating/cooperative pattern and subsidiary Ambitious/confident features. Typologically, Biden may be characterized as a conciliatory extravert with an interpersonal leadership style.

Presidential Electability Index range: 21-33


Click on image for larger view

Abstract

The poster presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of former U.S. vice president Joe Biden, Democratic nominee in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.

Psychodiagnostically relevant data about Biden were collected from biographical sources and media reports and synthesized into a personality profile using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with DSM-III-R, DSM-IV, and DSM-5.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Biden’s primary personality pattern was found to be Outgoing/gregarious, complemented by a secondary Accommodating/cooperative pattern and subsidiary Ambitious/confident features.

The prominence of the Outgoing pattern, in conjunction with a distinctive Accommodating pattern in his overall personality configuration, is indicative of the conciliatory extravert subtype. This personality composite provides the personological substrate for a strong affiliation motive. These individuals are driven to seek approval; they want others to like them and view them as a friend or ally. To achieve that motivational goal, they often compliment, praise, or flatter others, presenting an image of goodwill. When disagreements occur, they attempt to smooth things over, sometimes at the cost of conceding.

Leaders with Biden’s personality profile are likely to exhibit an interpersonal leadership style, characterized by flexibility, compromise, and an emphasis on teamwork. The general tenor of a Biden presidency likely will be conciliatory, which could render a prospective President Biden vulnerable to manipulation by pressure groups and handicap him in negotiations or conflicts with foreign adversaries.

 


Research paper

The Political Personality of 2020 Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, August 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (22 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/130/



Annie Griebie briefly explains the conceptual framework, methodology, and results of her assessment of Vice President Joe Biden’s personality and leadership style. (9:42)


 

Update: October 8, 2020

Biden’s Mental State: What the Experts Are Saying

John Martin-Joy M.D.

Psychology Today
September 29, 2020

Excerpts

[It] is hard to find a psychiatrist or psychologist who has commented on the Democratic nominee in the media. Is psychological comment merely partisanship in professional disguise?

For years it has been known that psychiatrists tend to vote Democratic. In 1968, for example, President Lyndon Johnson’s pollster noted that doctors were overwhelmingly Republican — “except for psychiatrists.” As of 1964, as Johnson’s men noted, psychiatrists had polled Democratic by a margin of 67% to 33%. …

Outside the glare of the media, one can turn to the groves of academe for careful study of Biden’s personality. Anne Marie Griebie and psychologist Aubrey Immelman of the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University have recently conducted an empirical study of Biden’s public personality. Their Biden profile [link added] is the latest in a long and systematic series of at-a-distance evaluations of presidential candidates [link added] conducted by Immelman’s group since the 1990s.

Griebie and Immelman assembled open-source material on Biden, then conducted empirical ratings of his personality using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC). The MIDC’s personality typology is related to, although not identical to, the DSM system.

The results? Biden’s personality, the researchers found, is predominantly outgoing/gregarious, with lesser features of accommodating/cooperative and ambitious. The leadership of individuals who have this profile has an interpersonal focus that involves “flexibility, compromise, and an emphasis on teamwork.”

Their point has some echoes in Jules Witcover’s thorough and admiring biography of Biden. There, the candidate is described as strikingly “garrulous” and empathic over many years, often reaching out to others in times of tragedy and loss even as he aimed repeatedly for the presidency.

Griebe and Immelman believe his gregarious and accommodating personality style may make Biden vulnerable to “manipulation by pressure groups” and may make negotiations with world leaders difficult.

In some ways, the group’s evaluation of Biden resembles their past findings about Barack Obama [link added], whom they found also showed accommodating traits. Before Obama’s election, Immelman expressed concern about whether Obama was tough enough to succeed in the presidency.

The group sees Kamala Harris [link added], Biden’s choice for vice president, as dominant/asserting, with elements of ambitious/confident and outgoing/congenial. This kaleidoscope of traits adds up to a style that the group sees as “high dominance charismatic.” It is not clear how Immelman believes a candidate with such a personality will get along with the outgoing and accommodating Biden.

And Donald Trump? [link added] Immelman’s group sees him as “ambitious/exploitative” — that means narcissistic, they explain — and also outgoing/impulsive. This is an unusual combination, one they have not found in the 2020 Democratic nominees.

Can Biden defeat Trump in 2020? Mental health professionals have a poor track record of predicting adverse events in their patients, let alone election results involving candidates they have never met. But Immelman and colleagues have developed an empirical instrument they call the “Personal Electability Index” (PEI).

The PEI, has predicted correctly — “before Super Tuesday,” no less — “the outcome of every presidential election since 1996.”

The PEI uses ratings of personality traits, “as publicly perceived,” to predict each candidate’s appeal to independent voters. Independents allegedly base their decisions on personality more than politics — and are said to favor outgoing, confident, and dominant candidates while disliking those who are introverted and overconscientious. (Such candidates tend to have trouble connecting with people during the campaign.)

In March 2016, while polls heavily favored Hillary Clinton, the PEI calmly predicted she would lose to Donald Trump.

What does all this mean for the 2020 election? Last year Immelman’s group used the PEI to assess the candidates’ personality traits, comparing Trump with all of the Democratic primary candidates, including Biden and Harris. The PEI predicted that Biden’s outgoing personality would lead him to surpass all of the other candidates in the Democratic primary race.

And according to the PEI, Donald Trump will win in November 2020.

Claims of infallibility for the PEI, of course, should be taken with a grain of salt. As described, its value rests on a set of very changeable assumptions. And there have been only six elections since 1996, making its sample size extremely small and its track record a very thin basis for prediction. Still, as predictions go, it at least appears to have some empirical foundation.

Presidential candidates, no matter how accommodating or conciliatory, are unlikely to concede a year before an election because of a research finding by a psychologist. In our system, it is, finally, up to the voters and not to the mental health professionals to decide.

Full report at Psychology Today

 


Related reports on this site

Projecting the Winner of the 2020 Presidential Election: The Personal Electability Index (July 8, 2019)

Donald Trump

Presidential Electability Index

Range: 65-77 (71 ±6); dysfunctionality adjusted = 45

 

Joe Biden

Presidential Electability Index

Range: 16-29 (22.5 ±6.5) / Revised Aug. 2020: 21-33 (27 ±6)

 

The Personality Profile of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (April 25, 2019)


Click on image for larger view

Joe Biden’s Second Act? 2020 “Ridin’ with Biden” (May 31, 2017)



Psychological Profile Presented at ISPP 2020 Annual Meeting

U.S. President Donald J. Trump


Aubrey Immelman presents his paper, with Anne Marie Griebie, on “The Personality Profile and Leadership Style of U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Office” at the 43rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, July 16, 2020. The meeting, originally scheduled for Berlin, Germany, was conducted in virtual format due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.


Annie Griebie explains the scoring system used in the assessment of President Donald Trump’s personality as revealed in office.

Research report

The Personality Profile and Leadership Style of U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Office. Paper presented at the 43rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Berlin, Germany, July 14-16, 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (71 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/129/

Related presentations


Annie Griebie briefly explains the conceptual framework, methodology, and results of her assessment of President Donald Trump’s personality as revealed in office. (9:39)


Click on image for larger view

More information » U.S. President Donald J. Trump

 


 

Related reports

USPP-Website_header

The Political Personality of 2016 Republican Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, October 2016 (Paper presented at the 41st Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Antonio, TX, July 4-7, 2018). Abstract and link for full-text (31 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/103/

The Leadership Style of U.S. President Donald J. Trump. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, January 2017. Abstract and link for full-text (14 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/107/


Jun 30th, 2020


Rumors are swirling on the internet that Kim Jong-un is in a vegetative state or has died as the result of a botched cardiac procedure; however, there has been no confirmation of these reports by official government agencies or reliable sources.

38 North reports:

A train probably belonging to Kim Jong Un has been parked at the Leadership Railway Station servicing his Wonsan compound since at least April 21, according to commercial satellite imagery. The train’s presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health, but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country’s eastern coast.

April 26, 2020 Update: Dynastic Succession in North Korea

Anna Fifield, Washington Post bureau chief in Beijing and author of The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un provides an informative analysis of the prospects for dynastic succession or continuity of governance in the event of Kim Jong-un’s death.

If Kim turns out to be fine, it would hardly be the first time that reports of the death of a North Korean leader had been greatly exaggerated. Japanese and South Korean newspapers killed off his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, and his father, Kim Jong Il, multiple times in the years before either man actually died.

Kim Jong Un’s premature demise was also reported in 2014, when his disappearance from public view for six weeks sparked talk of death by military coup, heart attack, or excessive cheese consumption. …

What if Kim Jong Un dies? There is no clear successor for him. …

April 28, 2020 Update: Medical Opinion by Kenneth B. Dekleva, M.D.

[Kim Jong Un’s] absence now is of notable concern, given multiple reports about Kim having received some form of cardiac surgery and possibly suffering from subsequent complications. While these reports remain unconfirmed, the security consequences of Kim’s sudden demise or incapacitation could be enormous, given the lack of clarity on what comes next. …

I am Kim’s heart: The health status of Chairman Kim Jong Un
(Kenneth B. Dekleva, 38 North, April 28, 2020)

April 29, 2020 Update: Imagery Shows Train at Kim Jong Un’s Wonsan Compound Again

38 North reports:

Commercial satellite imagery from April 29 shows a train at the leadership train station that services Kim Jong Un’s compound in the coastal city of Wonsan. While a train was first observed at this station on April 21 and again on April 23, it cannot be determined whether it has remained at the station since then. On April 29, the train is situated in the same position as before. However, the engine is no longer parked alongside the south end of the train. Whether the engine car has departed or was simply moved under the station’s canopy is unclear. But in either case, the train does not appear to be prepared for departure.


Image: ©2020 Planet Labs, Inc. via 38 North.

May 1, 2020 Update: Does Kim Jong Un Have a Succession Plan?

Chris Steinitz, Ken Gause, and Elizabeth Yang offer an insightful analysis at 38 North of scenarios for succession and continuity of governance in the event of Kim Jong-un’s demise.

If the leader were merely incapacitated, the immediate, temporary structure would likely be led by a small group of family and close aides, who would make decisions along established lines, maintaining the status quo. This small collective would carry out the day-to-day affairs of the regime, not unlike the group that supported Kim Jong Il after his stroke in 2008.

If Kim Jong Un dies, however, the situation would become much more precarious. An initial leadership group would likely be set up that includes those above, as well as members from the Party, military, and internal security. Whether someone like Kim Yo Jong would sit atop this structure or would assume the role of Supreme Leader is unclear. It is also possible that some male member of the Kim family could be put forth as a figurehead for legitimacy purposes, instead of Kim Yo Jong.

May 2, 2020 Update: Kim Jong Un Resurfaces

The New York Times reports:

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, resurfaced in public view on Friday, the North’s state news media reported Saturday, controverting three weeks of rumors and unconfirmed news reports that he was in grave danger after undergoing heart surgery. …

Mr. Kim, 36, had last appeared publicly on April 11. … Rumors subsequently went into overdrive, claiming that Mr. Kim was “in grave danger,” in a “vegetative state” after botched heart-valve surgery, or in quarantine after contracting Covid-19. Other reports said that China had sent doctors to Pyongyang to save him.

After its initial report on Saturday, the North Korean news agency released photos showing a smiling Mr. Kim applauding, cutting a ribbon, and standing with his hands behind his back at a new fertilizer factory.

Related links on this site

The Leadership Style of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un (June 12, 2018)

North Korea Threat Assessment: The Psychological Profile of Kim Jong-un (April 8, 2013)



The 2020 U.S. presidential election-outcome forecast issued by the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics on July 8, 2019, anticipated the surprising Super Tuesday Democratic primary results, with a surging Joe Biden defying polls and political pundits to seize the lead from an ascendant Bernie Sanders in the battle for the Democratic nomination for president.

The Presidential Electability Index (PEI), which has accurately predicted — before Super Tuesday — the outcome of every presidential election since 1996, was developed to forecast general election outcomes; however, the PEI heuristic model (which employs publicly perceived candidate personality traits as the predictor variable) proved to be exceptionally robust in projecting Biden’s unexpected Super Tuesday surge.

As conceptualized by the Personal Electability Index (PEI) forecasting model, Democratic contenders studied in the 2020 presidential election cycle and still in the race rank as follows in terms of predicted political impact as a general election candidate:

1. Joe Biden

Presidential Electability Index

Range: 22-33 (27.5 ±5.5)

 

2. Bernie Sanders

Presidential Electability Index

Range: 16-23 (19.5 ±3.5)

 

3. Elizabeth Warren

Presidential Electability Index

Range: 6-8 (7 ±1)

 

Executive summary

The Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics’ PEI model ranks Biden as more competitive than Sanders in a hypothetical general election matchup against Donald Trump.

Evidently — as suggested by the Super Tuesday Democratic primary results — Biden’s personal characteristics also had a stronger impact on Democratic primary voters than did Sanders’.

 


PEI Scores for Democratic and Republican Nominees, 1996-2016

For historical context, here are the personality-based electability scores for all major-party nominees since 1996, published before Super Tuesday in presidential election years, with the successful candidate listed first:


 

Topical research reports

The Political Personality of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, December 2019. Abstract and link for full-text (21 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/122/

The Political Personality of 2020 Democratic Presidential Contender Bernie Sanders. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, March 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (24 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/126/

 


 

Related reports

The Personality Profile of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (April 25, 2019)


Click on image for larger view

Joe Biden’s Second Act? 2020 “Ridin’ with Biden” (May 31, 2017)

Projecting the Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election: The Personal Electability Index (Feb. 29, 2016)



Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was the only member of the Republican Party to vote with Democratic senators to convict President Donald Trump of abuse of power in a 52-48 not guilty vote after harshly criticizing Trump in his Senate floor speech announcing his intended vote.

Romney asserted that “the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor”; accused him of being “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust” for what he called “a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security, and our fundamental values”; and concluded that “corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office” that he could imagine.

This was not the first time Romney publicly lambasted Trump. In an op-ed published in the Washington Post a year earlier, Romney wrote that Trump had “not risen to the mantle of the office,” adding that a president “should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect.”

Similarly, Romney sharply rebuked the president’s actions outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, saying, “I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president,” implying Trump had “strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders.”

Granted, motives can be complex and difficult to discern, yet Romney’s personality profile offers at least a partial glimpse into his underlying motivation for bucking the GOP party line with his impeachment vote.

A psychological study of Mitt Romney conducted at the Unit for the Study of Politics during Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign revealed that “Romney’s primary personality pattern was … Conscientious/dutiful, complemented by secondary Dominant/asserting, Ambitious/confident, and Accommodating/cooperative features and a minor Retiring/reserved tendency” and characterized him as quintessentially “prudent, proper, dignified, dependable, and more principled than most personality types.”

Regarding his primary personality pattern of conscientiousness, Romney’s political-psychological profile depicts him as a principled person who does his best to uphold conventional rules and standards and to follow regulations closely, with a tendency to be intolerant of deviance and judgmental of those fail to adhere to those norms.

As stated in Romney’s profile, conscientious individuals “tend to follow standards from which they hesitate to deviate, attempt to act in an objective and rational manner, and decide matters in terms of what they believe is right.” They are often religious, and maintaining their integrity “ranks high among their goals” while “voicing moral values gives them a deep sense of satisfaction.”

As Romney asserted in his Senate floor speech:

As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.

In summary, Romney’s personality profile contains the following observations across the matrix of attribute domains comprising his overall personality composite:

  • Expressive behavior: scrupulous in matters of morality and ethics, but may strike others as prudish, moralistic, and condescending. (p. 11)
  • Interpersonal conduct: unbending in his relations with subordinates [which Trump arguably embodies in his capacity as a defendant in an impeachment trial], insisting they adhere to personally established rules and methods. (p. 11)
  • Cognitive style: concerned with matters of propriety and tends to be rigid about regulations and procedures. (p. 11)
  • Mood/temperament: dignified, serious minded, solemn demeanor. (p. 12)
  • Self-image: values aspects of himself that exhibit virtue and moral rectitude. (p. 12)
  • Morphologic organization/ego-defense mechanism: public facade of conformity and propriety may mask an undercurrent of repressed urges toward self-assertion and defiance. (p. 13)

Finally, the section on leadership implications in the report of Romney’s political personality concludes that, in his policy choices, consensus building likely plays a secondary role to the implementation of the “morally correct” policy. (p. 17)

Objective assessment of the psychological motives underlying Romney’s “guilty” impeachment vote dictates that he was simply acting in character and in accordance with his deeply held personal and religious values. However, that determination belies the probability that some of Romney’s Republican Senate colleagues possess a similar personality profile and set of values.

What, then, could account for Romney’s dissenting vote?

One clue may be implicit in Trump’s public humiliation of Romney, whom the president called “a pompous ‘ass’” who had been “fighting me from the beginning, except when he begged me for my endorsement for his Senate run … and when he begged me to be Secretary of State.”

In that regard, it’s notable that Romney’s personality profile is suggestive of an individual more likely to nurse grudges than most. From that perspective, an alternative explanation for Romney’s vote might be that he gave the president a taste of his own kind of quid pro quo.

 


Cited report

The Political Personality of 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Paper presented by Aubrey Immelman at the 35th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Chicago, July 6–9, 2012. Abstract and link for full-text (35 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/98/


 

Related reports on this site

What Motivates Mitt Romney to Question Donald Trump’s Character? (Jan. 3, 2019)

Romney poster (2013)
Click on image for larger view

Mitt Romney Announces Bid for U.S. Senate in Utah (Feb. 17, 2018)

Embedded video

Mitt Romney for Secretary of State? (Nov. 19, 2016)

Mitt Romney’s Personality Profile (June 2, 2011)


As shown in the pie chart, Romney has a primarily Conscientious-dutiful personality, complemented by secondary Dominant-asserting, Ambitious-confident, and Accommodating-cooperative features and a minor Retiring-reserved tendency.

Mitt Romney’s Leadership Style (Sept. 3, 2012)


Research assistants Amanda Nusbaum and Feiran Chen presented their research on “The Personality Profile of 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney” at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., July 30, 2012.

Why Mitt Romney Won’t Be President — In Theory (Oct. 29, 2012)


Aubrey Immelman and Andrew Obritsch in Chicago at the annual scientific meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology to present their research on Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, July 2012.


Feb 4th, 2020

CNN reports:

There’s no result yet from last night’s all-important, first-in-the-nation, election season-opening Iowa caucuses. … A vote-reporting debacle has delayed results in the contest, leaving candidates and voters furious and precincts scrambling to come up with answers. Officials from two Democratic campaigns say they were told an app used to tabulate the votes crashed, and the Iowa Democratic Party said it found inconsistencies in some vote sets.

In the absence of official election results 12 hours after the caucuses, I examined the Google Analytics report of visits to the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics pages for Democratic presidential contenders in the 7 days up to and including the Iowa caucuses (Jan. 28–Feb. 3, 2020).


            Note: Biden’s page (/joe-biden) ranked 20th in USPP page visits
 

Descriptive analytics for Iowa caucus contenders
 

1.  Bernie Sanders

      220 page visits (52.1%)
 
      Note: 170 (2016 page) plus 50 (2020 page)
 

2.  Elizabeth Warren

      74 page visits (17.5%)
 
 
 

3.  Pete Buttigieg

      56 page visits (13.3%)
 
 
 

4.  Amy Klobuchar

      50 page visits (11.9%)
 
 
 

5.  Joe Biden

      22 page visits (5.2%)
 
 
 


 

Update: February 7, 2020

Pete Buttigieg keeps narrow lead in Iowa caucuses with 100% of precincts reporting (Dan Merica, Jeff Zeleny, and Adam Levy, CNN, Feb. 6, 2020) — Pete Buttigieg holds a slim lead over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses with the Iowa Democratic Party announcing on Thursday night [Feb. 6] that 100% of precincts are reporting. The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor leads the Vermont senator by one-tenth of one percentage point in the all-important state delegate equivalent count. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are trailing behind Buttigieg and Sanders. The Democratic candidates have until 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT on Friday to file a request for a recanvass or a recount. If there are no challenges by that time, CNN plans to report a winner. … Full report



How will President Trump respond to Iranian retaliation for the killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani?

The two guiding principles of behavioral forecasting based on psychological profiling are:

  1. Personality directs — and therefore predicts — behavior.
  2. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Based on (1) empirical studies of Donald Trump’s personality profile and leadership style conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics and (2) rational-intuitive inference derived from President Trump’s observed behavior in office, the following general expectancies present themselves with reference to Trump’s likely response to Iran’s anticipated retaliation for the targeted killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Key personality traits driving President Trump’s behavior

Donald Trump is bold, self-assured, and levelheaded under pressure and in the face of adversity; is a dramatic attention‑getter more inclined to precipitous action than to indecision; enjoys the power to take charge, evoke respect, and seeing that the job gets done; is tough, competitive, and unsentimental; and is willing to flout tradition, acting autonomously in accordance with his personal goals and preferences.

Relevant indicators from President Trump’s past behavior

Donald Trump prides himself on “promises made, promises kept” and completing projects on- or ahead of schedule; is motivated to extricate the United States from “endless wars”; is driven to project military power to buttress U.S. prestige and national security; and is generally explicit in stating his intent.

General expectancies for President Trump’s response to Iranian reprisal

  • President Trump is highly unlikely to order a full-scale war such as George H.W. Bush’s Gulf War (1991) or George W. Bush’s invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003).
  • President Trump is unlikely to escalate the current standoff with Iran in the absence of revenge operations by the Iranian regime or its proxies.
  • President Trump is likely to respond proportionately to Iranian retaliation outside the United States, provided no U.S. nationals are harmed (but may incrementally escalate counterattacks if revenge attacks persist).
  • President Trump is likely to respond disproportionately to Iranian retaliation outside the United States if U.S. nationals are killed or injured.
  • President Trump is likely to respond with overwhelming force to attacks by Iran or its proxies within the United States or its territories.

———————————————

Update: January 9, 2020

Trump backs away from further military conflict with Iran (Peter Baker, New York Times, Jan. 8, 2020) — President Trump backed away from further military action against Iran and called for renewed diplomacy on Wednesday as the bristling confrontation of the past six days eased in the aftermath of an Iranian missile strike that seemed intended to save face rather than inflict casualties. … The president’s statement came hours after Iran’s government indicated that it had “concluded proportionate measures” avenging the killing of the commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, with the launch of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing American troops. The missiles did not result in any American or Iraqi deaths, an outcome interpreted by some analysts as a deliberate attempt by Iran to claim it had responded, but without provoking Mr. Trump. …