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A psychological analysis of retired pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson — a contender for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election — by Hannah Hoppe and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Carson’s most prominent personality patterns are Dominant / assertive, Ambitious / confident, and Conscientious / respectful. In summary, Carson’s personality composite can be characterized as a confident, deliberative organizer.

Carson poster (2015-08)
Click on image for larger view

Following is a summary of the major findings of the study, as published in an opinion column in the St. Cloud Times.

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Carson’s Restraint May Keep Him from the Top Spot

Carson_2015-08-27_AP-SCT
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks Aug. 27 at a rally in Little Rock, Arkansas. (Photo: AP)

By Hannah Hoppe
St. Cloud Times
August 30, 2015

“The first person ever to go under Dr. Ben Carson’s knife … was stabbed by him in school.”

With such an eventful chapter in his childhood history, psychological analysis of pediatric neurosurgeon and 2016 Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson seems almost disappointing, revealed nothing quite so dramatic. In fact, Carson’s personality profile turns out to be rather unremarkable — for a presidential candidate, that is.

Matt K. Lewis relates the story of Carson’s boyhood stabbing in the Daily Caller (“The time Dr. Ben Carson knifed someone,” June 12, 2014). While psychoanalytically oriented analysts might be tempted to speculate that Carson sublimated — channeled — his deep-seated aggressive impulses into his chosen profession, we won’t go there.

Instead, we conducted a comprehensive empirical analysis of Carson’s character this summer at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University’s Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics for insight into Carson’s typical patterns of thinking, acting, feeling and relating to others — that is, his personality.

Assertive, confident, respectful

The most prominent feature of Carson’s personality profile, as measured by the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria, is that he has no extreme elevations, in stark contrast to some of his competitors — such as Donald Trump with his spikes on aggressiveness, narcissism and extroversion, or Jeb Bush with his conspicuous scale elevations on conscientiousness and introversion.

In short, Carson’s profile is relatively flat, suggesting a well-balanced, even-keeled personality relatively flexible in the ability to respond adaptively to a broad range of situational demands.

The key drivers for Carson are the dominant/assertive, ambitious/ confident and conscientious/respectful patterns. People with a combination of dominant and ambitious traits are typically characterized as strong-willed, competitive and driven to succeed.

Furthermore, moderately conscientious people like Carson are classically earnest, polite, respectful, principled personalities with a strong work ethic.

Political implications

Despite possessing personality traits that signify fitness to govern, the sedate, composed persona projected by those traits, ironically, entails that Carson likely will encounter difficulty — unlike, say, Trump — to draw attention to himself and capture the earned media instrumental in elevating a candidate to a position of prominence in the large Republican field.

Given his understated, soft-spoken, unpretentious personality, it’s noteworthy that Carson is one of just three candidates to raise his stock significantly in the Aug. 6 Fox News debate — from 7 percent in the last Fox News GOP preference poll prior to the debate to 12 percent post-debate. (The other stock-raisers were Ted Cruz, from 6 percent to 10 percent, and Carly Fiorina, from 2 percent to 5 percent.)

Carson’s rise is all the more remarkable in view of the fact that he was one of the most overlooked candidates in the debate. According to the New York Times, Carson spoke for just 6 minutes and 48 seconds, compared with 11 minutes, 14 seconds for Trump and only marginally more than Rand Paul, who brought up the rear with 5 minutes and 28 seconds at the mic.

To reiterate, there’s really nothing in Carson’s profile to suggest he should have raised his poll numbers to the extent he did in the debate. For example, like Bush and Scott Walker, he’s quite conscientious, a quality that does not play well with voters (because it makes a candidate seem boring) and not particularly extroverted (which makes a candidate appear animated and engaging).

What lifts Carson?

It’s possible Carson improved his standing in the polls merely by dint of his memorable closing statement, which played well with the audience and received broad coverage in the media, in particular his pithy remark, “I’m the only one (among the presidential hopefuls) to take out half of a brain, although you would think, if you go to Washington, that someone had beat me to it.”

Notably, Carson’s witty rejoinder reflects the self-deprecating, dry humor sometimes found in conscientious personalities; however, along with introversion, that particular personality trait does not play well in retail politics. What does pay dividends in popularity points is a candidate who is publicly perceived as highly dominant, supremely self-confident and energetically outgoing — which sounds like Trump, not Carson.

Ultimately, our best take on Carson’s rise in the polls is that good numbers of voters do, in fact, respond favorably to someone as restrained and unpretentious as Carson. Perhaps not enough to make him king of the hill, but sufficient to lift him to his present perch comfortably at second place in the polls.

This is the opinion of Hannah Hoppe, St. Cloud, a senior psychology major at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where she is a summer research fellow in the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, directed by Aubrey Immelman.

Hoppe-Hannah_2015 (cropped)
Hannah Hoppe, St. Cloud (Submitted photo)

About this series

This is the sixth in an occasional series of personality profiles of most of the Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election. Hannah Hoppe is a research assistant at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, a collaborative faculty–student research program in the psychology of politics at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, led by associate professor Aubrey Immelman, who specializes in the psychological assessment of presidential candidates and world leaders.

The unit’s summer research program focused on GOP contenders because of the unprecedented number of presidential hopefuls and the unit’s mission to help the public make better informed voting choices. Major Democratic candidates will be profiled next spring.

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Note: Personal Electability Index (favorability) score

Ben Carson scores moderately on the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria-based Personal Electability Index, which has accurately predicted the outcome of every presidential election since 1996.

Following are the PEI calculations for Ben Carson:

Ben Carson: PEI = 13

Scale:  1A    1B     2    3    4    5A    5B    6    7    8
Score:   8      4       7    2    2     0       2     7    2    1

Scale: 1A = 8; 2 = 7; 3 = 2; 6 = 7; 8 = 1

[Extraversion (scale 3) = 2] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 7] + [Dominance (scale 1) = 8] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 1] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (7 - 4) = 3] = 17 – 4 = 13

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Related report

Trump, Carson in Close Fight in Iowa Poll

Embedded image permalink

By Mark Hensch
http://cstl-cla.semo.edu/cidistefano/ps103/smallogo.jpg

August 27, 2015

Excerpts

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and businessman Donald Trump are neck-and-neck for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination in Iowa, a new poll says.

The Bloomberg/Des Moines Register survey released on Saturday finds that the two are tied in Iowa caucus-goer support when voters’ first and second choices for the Republican coronation are combined.

Each is the first or second choice of 32 percent of respondents.

Trump won the poll overall, getting 23 percent support. Carson comes in second at 18 percent. …

“Trump and Carson, one bombastic and the other sometimes soft-spoken, could hardly be more different in their outward presentations,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., who conducted the poll, according to Bloomberg.

“Yet they’re both finding traction because they don’t seem like politicians and there’s a strong demand for that right now,” she added.

Saturday’s poll found that Trump is vastly improving his position in Iowa since launching his presidential campaign in June.

He is now rated favorably by 61 percent of Republican voters there, with 35 percent ranking him unfavorably. …

The survey found that Carson is buoyed in Iowa by his likable public persona and his vocal Christian faith.

It said that 79 percent likely GOP caucus-goers view the retired neurosurgeon favorably, the highest score in the GOP’s entire 2016 field. …

Read the full report

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Related reports on this site

Why Donald Trump Beats Jeb Bush: The Personal Electability Index (Aug. 23, 2015)

Trump-Bush_2015-08-06_Getty-SCT
Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Fox News Debate Preview: Comparative Psychological Profiles of the Republican Field (Aug. 6, 2015)

Fox News candidates on stage

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump (Aug. 9, 2015)

Trump poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush (Aug. 2, 2015)

Bush poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Scott Walker (July 26, 2015)

Walker poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

Republican Presidential Candidate Profiles, Polling, and Debates (May 31, 2015)



Republican presidential contenders (from left to right and top to bottom) Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum (Photo credits: Gage Skidmore, officeholder official portraits / Wikipedia)



Research conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics under the direction of Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., offers a political-psychological explanation for Donald Trump’s personal appeal as a candidate and Jeb Bush’s inability to consolidate his erstwhile front-runner status in the 2016 U.S. presidential election Republican primary.

Following is a summary of the major findings of the study, as published in an opinion column in the St. Cloud Times.

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Why Bush Gets Trumped in the Polls

Trump-Bush_2015-08-06_Getty-SCT
Donald Trump, center, has led the charge against Jeb Bush, right, who is also well-funded and considered one of the favorites. Jeb Bush fields a question in the Aug. 6 Fox News debate as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Donald Trump look on. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

By Aubrey Immelman
St. Cloud Times
August 23, 2015

The first national polls since the Aug. 6 Fox News debate show Donald Trump solidifying his lead over erstwhile front-runner Jeb Bush among likely Republican primary voters.

Fox News reported 25 percent Trump to 9 percent Bush, and CNN reported 24 percent to 13 percent.

As Vox Policy & Politics noted Aug. 19, “Jeb Bush planned to win the Republican primary with a shock-and-awe strategy. Instead, it’s been a shocking fall for the onetime GOP frontrunner. He started the campaign with the most famous name in Republican politics, a $100 million-plus stake, and clear, if underwhelming, favorite status in early polling. But Bush has fallen fastest and farthest against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s rise.”

Failed political punditry

Political pundits and TV talking heads, initially dismissive about Trump’s candidacy, have flailed and floundered to offer a plausible explanation for the real-estate mogul’s spectacular surge in the presidential primary stakes.

The Vox report offers a representative sampling: Bush seems too much of a political insider; the establishment wing of the GOP isn’t sold on Bush; conservatives don’t trust Bush; and Bush is bland and boring on the campaign trail.

With the exception of the latter, none of the above rationales offers an adequate explanation, save possibly on the margins. The real reason for Bush’s fading presidential prospects is his bland persona — particularly in contrast to Trump’s star power.

That is the conclusion I reached in an effort to come to grips with Trump’s appeal after consulting a measure I developed about 20 years ago to predict the winner in presidential elections prior to Super Tuesday.

This heuristic model, developed in the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, employs candidate personality traits, as publicly perceived, to predict which contender will resonate most favorably with voters.

A caveat: The model is designed for general elections, where independent and so-called “low-information” voters — many of whom base their choice on the candidate’s personal appeal rather than party-political affiliation — hold the balance of power. Those dynamics are not necessarily in play during the primary process, which tends to be driven by partisan “base” voters.

Perception drives choice

My research on the psychology of politics, spanning more than a quarter century, reveals voters respond favorably to candidates who are outgoing, self-confident and dominant; and negatively to voters who are introverted and overly conscientious.

Take Bill Clinton, to date the highest-scoring presidential candidate on my “Personal Electability Index.” Clinton is among the most outgoing, confident, energetic personalities I have studied — not in the least socially aloof and more undisciplined than conscientious.

That distinction goes to the worst-scoring presidential candidate I have profiled: Al Gore, with a PEI score of minus 17. Conscientiousness is a desirable quality in a president, but on the campaign trail it feeds public perception of the candidate as stiff and formal, pedantic and boring.

Similarly, introversion can be an asset in office, permitting sustained focus on the task at hand, but to voters, excessive introversion comes across as bland and “wooden.”

Trump vs. Bush

Of the three personal qualities that appeal to voters — extroversion, self-confidence (narcissism), and dominance — Trump trumps Bush on all three, by a New York mile.

On the two attributes that diminish a candidate’s personal appeal — introversion and conscientiousness — Bush takes Trump to the cleaners. Unfortunately for Bush, what would be a personal strength in the White House leaves the average voter cold.

The personality score sheet shows Trump defeats Bush decisively with a PEI score of 62 to minus 3. That’s minus 3, the worst score since Al Gore.

For historical perspective, here are my personality-based electability numbers for all major-party nominees since 1996, published before Super Tuesday in presidential election years, with the successful candidate or incumbent listed first. In addition, selected candidates in the current election cycle are listed in descending order of PEI scores:

  • 1996: Bill Clinton 37, Bob Dole 15
  • 2000: George W. Bush 31, Al Gore -17
  • 2004: George W. Bush 31, John Kerry 9
  • 2008: Barack Obama 28, John McCain 26
  • 2012: Barack Obama 10, Mitt Romney 6
  • 2016: Donald Trump 62, Hillary Clinton 23, Jeb Bush -3

So personality does matter, at least for now. But only time will tell how prominently character will figure in this election cycle; a broad array of personal and situational factors will be in play.

Will Trump’s inflated confidence cause him to overreach and self-destruct? Will Clinton’s deleted emails serve to wipe her off the election ballot? Will Bush’s political connections and considerable campaign war chest carry him through?

Stay tuned and watch this space.

This is the opinion of Aubrey Immelman, associate professor of psychology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where he directs a faculty-student collaborative research program in political psychology, the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics.

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Commentary

Jeb Bush’s extraordinarily low rating of -3 on the Personal Electability Index, which has accurately predicted the outcome of every presidential election since 1996), ranks near the bottom among presidential candidates I’ve studied in the past five presidential election cycles.

Compared with recent presidential candidates that most closely resemble Bush, Romney’s PEI score is marginally worse than Mitt Romney’s lackluster score of 6, though considerably better than Al Gore’s record-low score of -17.

Donald Trump, in contrast, obtained a higher PEI score than any presidential candidate since I started employing the heuristic in 1996. Of all major-party nominees since 1996, Trump most closely resembles Bill Clinton (the previous PEI leader with a score of 37), though Trump is considerably more dominant than Clinton.

Caveat: Trump’s inordinately high PEI score of 62 in large part is accounted for by extreme MIDC scale elevations on on scale 1A (which measures dominance) and scale 2 (a measure of narcissism). In my opinion, a PEI correction factor may need to be instituted for scale elevations of that order. (The PEI already contains a correction factor for scale 6, where a candidate is not penalized for the first four points of MIDC scale elevation on conscientiousness.)

Following are the PEI calculations for Jeb Bush and Donald Trump.

Jeb Bush: PEI = (-)3

Scale:   1A    1B    2    3    4    5A    5B    6    7    8
Score:    9       3     8    1    5      1       5    15   4  10

Scale: 1A = 9; 2 = 8; 3 = 1; 6 = 15; 8 = 10

[Extraversion (scale 3) = 1] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 8] + [Dominance (scale 1) = 9] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 10] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (15 - 4) = 11] = 18 – 21 = (-)3

Donald Trump: PEI = 62

Scale:   1A    1B    2    3    4    5A    5B    6    7    8
Score:   19    11  24  19    1      0      6     2    1    0

Scale: 1A = 19; 2 = 24; 3 =19; 6 = 2; 8 = 0

[Extraversion (scale 3) = 19] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 24] + [Dominance (scale 1) = 19] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (2 – 2) = 0] = 62 – 0 = 62

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Related interest

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Pollsters Dumbfounded by Trump

By Ben Kamisar
http://cstl-cla.semo.edu/cidistefano/ps103/smallogo.jpg

August 27, 2015

Excerpt

Polling experts agree on one thing when it comes to Donald Trump’s presidential run: They’ve never seen anything like it.

The billionaire businessman’s dominance of the Republican presidential race is forcing experienced political hands to question whether everything they know about winning the White House is wrong.

The shocks have come in quick succession, with Trump first rocketing to the top of national polls, and then taking double-digit leads in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

In another act of political magic, Trump managed to flip his favorability rating from negative to positive in one poll during the span of a month — a feat that Monmouth University’s Patrick Murray called “astounding.”

“That defies any rule in presidential politics that I’ve ever seen,” Murray, the director Monmouth’s Polling Institute, told The Hill.

Trump’s favorability rose from 20 percent to 52 percent among Republican voters between July and August, Monmouth found. …

Read the full report

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5 Reasons Bush Isn’t Freaking Out About Trump

By Marc Caputo and Anna Palmer

August 21, 2015

Excerpts

… Despite Donald Trump shooting ahead in the polls and Bush’s debate performance getting bad reviews — and amid signs of frustration on the campaign trail from the former Florida governor himself — his supporters aren’t panicking, multiple sources close to the candidate insist. The Bush camp is projecting confidence that the Summer of Trump will fade to winter, and that Jeb will prevail when it matters.

Here are five reasons Jebworld isn’t freaking out:

1. ‘Trump v. Somebody’

… Before Trump soared, Bush was on top. But while Trump’s climb has corresponded with Bush’s fall, Bush hasn’t crashed to earth. …

“It’s going to come down to Trump v. Somebody and Jeb is the somebody,” said one consultant who has worked for Bush, summing up the thinking inside his orbit.

… The more the press focuses on Trump v. Bush, the calculation goes, the less attention the lesser candidates get, starving them of oxygen. A two-man race is good for Jeb. …

2. Jeb, Inc.

By any measure, the roughly $120 million amassed by Bush’s campaign, super PAC and leadership PAC is as stunning as it is life-sustaining for the candidate. Money doesn’t buy love in an election, but it puts a down payment on it. And Bush’s camp is about to spread the love. …

3. Bush, Inc.

Before there was Jeb, Inc. 2016, there was Bush, Inc. His grandfather was a U.S. senator; his father and brother were presidents. No other family in modern America has wielded such political power and had such ties to the GOP establishment and Wall Street, where he reestablished relations after leaving the governor’s mansion in 2007. Membership has its privileges. About half of Bush’s total $120 million haul came from donors who previously gave to his brother or father, a recent Associated Press analysis found.

These aren’t small donors — they’re millionaires, billionaires, major CEOs and former ambassadors. Not only are they loyal to the Bush dynasty, they’ve seen insurgent candidates flare up before and aren’t spooked by Trump, unlike some of the less experienced contributors to some of the other campaigns. …

4. The Bush Record

Underpinning Jeb, Inc.’s belief in its candidate is that no other Republican candidate can match his record as governor. …

This is “the Florida story” that Jeb, Inc. has already started to tell. The campaign and his backers say that, in the end, most Republican voters don’t know it and only identify Bush as the son and brother of former presidents. And Bush supporters are counting on Bush’s long history of working to elect Republicans — in contrast to Trump, who has supported and contributed to Democrats. …

5. Bush Time

With all that money and institutional support, Bush’s team says it’s secure because it has the luxury of time. Though he’s now in second place, Bush isn’t fending off daily questions about his longterm viability. Bush has compared himself to the slow, plodding tortoise in Aesop’s fable. …

Read the full report

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Related reports on this site

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump (Aug. 9, 2015)

Trump poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

Excerpt: A psychological analysis of real estate developer and television celebrity Donald Trump — a contender for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election — by Hannah Hoppe and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Trump’s predominant personality pattern is Ambitious / self-serving (a measure of narcissism) with secondary features of the Dominant / controlling and Outgoing / gregarious patterns. In summary, Trump’s personality composite can be characterized as a high-dominance charismatic.

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush (Aug. 2, 2015)

Bush poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

Excerpt: A psychological analysis of former Florida governor Jeb Bush — a contender for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election — by Atarah Pinder and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Bush’s predominant personality pattern is Conscientious / dutiful and Retiring / aloof, with secondary Dominant / asserting features. In summary, Bush’s personality composite can be characterized as a conscientious, forceful introvert.

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.

Excerpt: A heuristic model developed at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics to predict the winner of the presidential election prior to Super Tuesday indicates that Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama will defeat Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney in the November 6, 2012 U.S. presidential election.

Personality Matters: Mitt Romney Has Al Gore Problem
(Jan. 16, 2012)


Photo composite: The Moderate Voice

Excerpt: Dana Milbank’s Washington Post opinion column outlining Mitt Romney’s personal shortcomings as a presidential candidate is congruent with my assessment that Mitt Romney lacks the personality qualities necessary to successfully challenge Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Specifically, Romney’s score of 6 on the Personal Electability Index (which has accurately predicted the outcome of every presidential election since 1996), ranks near the bottom among presidential candidates evaluated in the past four presidential election cycles.

Obama Campaign Tilting at Romney Windmill (Aug. 9, 2011)

Excerpt: The Obama campaign would be misguided if it diverted inordinate resources to fending off Mitt Romney as Barack Obama’s likely opponent. Despite being the early front-runner in public opinion polls, Romney is unlikely to be the Republican presidential nominee — or, if he is, to be a viable challenger to Barack Obama. … Specifically, Romney’s score of 6 on the Personal Electability Index (PEI), which has accurately predicted the outcome of every presidential election since 1996, ranks near the bottom among presidential candidates I’ve studied in the past four presidential election cycles — slightly lower than John Kerry’s PEI score of 9 (though considerably better than Al Gore’s -17).

Why Mitt Romney Won’t Win (May 12, 2011)


Click on image for larger view

Excerpt: A psychological analysis of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney– a contender for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential election — by Feiran Chen, Amanda Nusbaum, and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Romney’s predominant personality pattern is Conscientious / dutiful, with secondary Dominant / asserting and Ambitious / confident features. In summary, Romney’s personality composite can be characterized as a dutiful conformist. The major implication of the study is that Romney lacks the personal appeal and political charisma, as measured by the Personal Electability Index for presidential contenders, to defeat President Barack Obama in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.



A psychological analysis of New Jersey governor Chris Christie — a contender for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election — by Joe Trenzeluk and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Christie’s primary personality pattern is Dominant / controlling, with secondary Ambitious / confident and Dauntless / Adventurous features, along with Outgoing / congenial and Contentious / resolute tendencies. In summary, Christie’s personality composite can be characterized as a dominant, self-confident, risk-taking extravert.

Chris Christie poster 2015-08
Click on image for larger view

Following is a summary of the major findings of the study, as published in an opinion column in the St. Cloud Times.

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Christie Possesses Charisma and Dominance

BLM CPAC 2015 A POL USA MD
Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, smiles during an interview in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bloomberg)

By Joe Trenzeluk
St. Cloud Times
August 16, 2015

Donald Trump didn’t get all of the attention in last week’s Fox News debate. One of the more talked-about moments of the debate occurred when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul got into a squabble over government surveillance and national security.

However, the spat between these two competing presidential hopefuls was not all that surprising. Identifying the personality characteristics of political leaders — which we have done at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University’s Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics for nearly all of the Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election — matters.

It matters because personality analysis captures the stable, enduring patterns in a person’s motives, thoughts and actions over time and across situations. And, based on our studies, we anticipated that next to Trump, Christie and Paul were the candidates most likely to turn up the heat during the debate.

Christie: High-dominance, self-confident extrovert

Specifically, empirical analysis of Christie’s personality, and preliminary assessment of Paul’s, revealed Christie’s personality type to be primarily dominant/controlling, with secondary ambitious/self-serving and outgoing/gregarious features — a personality type that can be described as a “high-dominance, self-confident extrovert.”

Like Trump, Christie, with his large, outgoing, in-your-face personality, is not the type of person to let an opportunity for spirited debate pass him by. His “sit down and shut up” style makes him a safe choice to come out on top in heated arguments.

Also like Trump — though not to quite the same extent — Christie’s blend of self-confidence and extroversion provides him with personal charisma and his dominance gives him the aggressive edge to dominate rivals and detractors.

Personality plays out in politics

Paul, the most individualistic of the current crop of candidates, is less dominant or self-confident than Christie, though more conscientious and deliberative. Most significant, however, like Jeb Bush — but unlike Trump and Christie — Paul is not an extrovert.

In terms of raw political skill, that particular character trait renders Paul less able to connect with voters on the campaign trail than more outgoing candidates like Christie and Trump.

Returning to the Fox News debate, observing the disagreement between Christie and Paul illustrates how personality plays out in retail politics.

Christie combatively accuses Paul of “blowing smoke” and says his comments on warrantless surveillance are “ridiculous,” but then, in response to Paul’s accusation that Christie embraced Barack Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Christie appeals to viewers’ emotions with a smooth segue that the hugs he remembers were from victims.

Does Christie have what it takes?

The big question is whether sheer force of personality will be sufficient for Christie to grab the GOP nomination. In a nation where most people seem to have lost faith in government’s ability to govern, and where the ever more polarized Democratic and Republican parties frustrate voters with their endless ideological battles, a street-smart politician with a self-asserting, engaging personality like Christie’s just might be able to win the hearts and minds (and votes) of ordinary people.

That said, Christie has a long road ahead. Beating out Republican rivals like the popular Trump or the well-financed, well-connected Bush will be a difficult task. On top of that, many Republican primary voters see Christie as too moderate.

The last word may be that Christie’s record is too tarnished by the “Bridgegate” matter and that to voters in the heartland, Christie’s straight-talking, Jersey-boy attitude may come across less like the persona of an assertive, self-confident politician and more like the demeanor of a playground bully.

This is the opinion of Joe Trenzeluk, Inver Grove Heights, a senior psychology major at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where he is a summer research fellow at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, directed by Aubrey Immelman.

Trenzeluk-Joe_2015
Joe Trenzeluk, Inver Grove Heights (Submitted photo)

About this series

This is the fourth in an occasional series of personality profiles of most of the Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election. For the past two summers, Joe Trenzeluk has been a research assistant at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics led by associate professor Aubrey Immelman at St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict. Immelman specializes in the psychological assessment of presidential candidates and world leaders.

The unit’s summer research program focused on GOP contenders because of the unprecedented proliferation of presidential hopefuls and the unit’s mission to help the public make better informed voting choices. The unit will profile the major Democratic contenders next spring.

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Related reports on this site

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump (Aug. 9, 2015)

Trump poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

Fox News Debate Preview: Comparative Psychological Profiles of the Republican Field (Aug. 6, 2015)

Fox News candidates on stage

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush (Aug. 2, 2015)

Bush poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Scott Walker (July 26, 2015)

Walker poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

Republican Presidential Candidate Profiles, Polling, and Debates (May 31, 2015)



Republican presidential contenders (from left to right and top to bottom) Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum (Photo credits: Gage Skidmore, officeholder official portraits / Wikipedia)

Provisional Psychological Profiles of 2016 GOP Presidential Candidates (April 24, 2015)

Chris Christie poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view of pilot study



A psychological analysis of real estate mogul and television celebrity Donald Trump — a contender for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election — by Hannah Hoppe and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Trump’s predominant personality pattern is Ambitious / self-serving (a measure of narcissism) with secondary features of the Dominant / controlling and Outgoing / gregarious patterns. In summary, Trump’s personality composite can be characterized as a high-dominance charismatic.

Trump poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

Following is a summary of the major findings of the study, as published in an opinion column in the St. Cloud Times.

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Trump Driven by Narcissistic Dreams of Glory

AP_560809400146
“If we consider Trump’s enduring personality style, it quickly becomes clear why he has emerged as the favorite among the large field of Republican presidential hopefuls.” (Photo: AP)

By Hannah Hoppe
St. Cloud Times
August 9, 2015

A high profile business mogul turned celebrity TV star insults an entire group of people and a nationally recognized war hero, yet expands his lead in the polls in pursuit of the highest office in the land. Anyone not living under a rock knows the candidate in question is Donald Trump — “The Donald.”

Trump, who is rewriting the conventional wisdom on campaigning for president, announced his run for office in early June, and despite many critics’ cynical prognostications, his campaign is thriving. Recent surveys of Republican voters show Trump with about 25 percent support in a huge field of more than a dozen credible candidates, surpassing even early favorites such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The question political pundits are asking is this: What makes a man so conspicuously abrasive that popular?

Understanding personality — a person’s ingrained, enduring, predictable patterns of thinking, acting, feeling and relating to others — can go a long way toward answering that question.

Empirical analysis of Trump’s personality employing the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria was conducted this summer at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University’s Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics.

High-dominance charismatic

Trump’s primary personality pattern was found to be Ambitious/self-serving — a measure of narcissism — with secondary features of the Dominant/controlling and Outgoing/gregarious patterns. The label “high-dominance charismatic” serves as shorthand for this particular personality complex, given that political charisma is typically a function of supreme self-confidence (narcissism) in combination with an ample dose of extroversion.

Persons who score high on both the Ambitious and Outgoing scales, as in the case of the self-confident, extroverted Trump — and, incidentally, former president Bill Clinton — are adept at self-promotion and skilled in the art of social influence. Although highly ambitious and driven, they have a tendency to be undisciplined, with a penchant for thinking superficially and speaking in generalities. They are prone to act impulsively and ultimately are more attuned to their own needs than to those of others.

The high level of dominance (indicative of combativeness) in Trump’s personality profile also yields some interesting insights. High dominance in a candidate feeds the public perception of strong leadership, an important component of electability. That holds especially true in the Republican Party, which tends to value toughness — a strong military, law and order, and so on — to a higher degree than is the case in the Democratic Party.

Leadership implications

Examining Trump’s particular blend of personality traits paints a clearer picture of the persona behind the “distraction with traction,” as the Des Moines Register characterized the insurgent Trump in a recent editorial.

Not surprisingly, Trump’s personality has predictable leadership implications. He is exactly the kind of person who would pay actors to attend his presidential announcement speech as has been alleged, speaks in broad, oftentimes exaggerated, terms like saying he has a secret plan to defeat the Islamic State, refuses to apologize for anything, views himself as a nice guy loved by everyone, is driven by narcissistic dreams of glory, and considers himself potentially one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States.

If we consider Trump’s enduring personality style, it quickly becomes clear why he has emerged as the favorite among the large field of Republican presidential hopefuls. Although name recognition surely plays a part, Trump is flying high by dint of his dramatizing, self-assured, self-inflating tone and a compelling, captivating persona, which sucks the air from media coverage of his rivals and places him center stage in water-cooler and dinner-table talk from coast to coast.

Of course, whether these personal attributes make for effective leadership of the free world is an open question.

This is the opinion of Hannah Hoppe, St. Cloud, a senior psychology major at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where she is a summer research fellow in the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, directed by Aubrey Immelman.

Hoppe-Hannah_2015 (cropped)
Hannah Hoppe, St. Cloud (Submitted photo)

About this series

This is the third in an occasional series of personality profiles of most of the Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election. Hannah Hoppe is a research assistant at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics led by associate professor Aubrey Immelman at St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict. Immelman specializes in the psychological assessment of presidential candidates and world leaders.

The unit’s summer research program focused on GOP contenders because of the unprecedented proliferation of hopefuls and the unit’s mission to help the public make better informed voting choices. The unit will profile the major Democratic contenders next summer.

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Why Donald Trump Beats Jeb Bush: The Personal Electability Index (Aug. 23, 2015)

Trump-Bush_2015-08-06_Getty-SCT
Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Fox News Debate Preview: Comparative Psychological Profiles of the Republican Field (Aug. 6, 2015)

Fox News candidates on stage

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush (Aug. 2, 2015)

Bush poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Scott Walker (July 26, 2015)

Walker poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

Republican Presidential Candidate Profiles, Polling, and Debates (May 31, 2015)



Republican presidential contenders (from left to right and top to bottom) Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum (Photo credits: Gage Skidmore, officeholder official portraits / Wikipedia)

Provisional Psychological Profiles of 2016 GOP Presidential Candidates (April 24, 2015)

Scott Walker poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view of April 2015 pilot study

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Related reports

What Explains Donald Trump’s Arrogance?

By David Gergen
CNN Senior Political Analyst

August 10, 2015

Excerpts

Donald Trump’s behavior on stage Thursday night and in the days that have followed strike many as unfathomable: How can anyone act so arrogantly and meanly in public life? But in fact, there is a large body of academic and other work that helps to explain. Just Google the literature on “narcissistic leadership” and you will instantly recognize Trump — both his bright and dark sides.

[ . . . ]

A century ago, Sigmund Freud famously identified three basic personality types: erotics (those who love and need to be loved), obsessives (more inner-directed), and narcissists (those fixated with themselves and who crave adoration, not love).

More recently, Michael Maccoby, a psychoanalyst and anthropologist who has counseled governments and corporations for decades, has written the most accessible and popular work on narcissistic leaders. In my view, his article in the Harvard Business Review in 2004 remains the best short essay on the subject in the past several years.

Maccoby recognizes that Freud’s three types overlap in many of us and that all of us have a degree of narcissism. Self-esteem helps us survive and meet our basic needs in life. Maccoby goes on to argue that in turbulent, uncertain times, societies actually need narcissistic leaders. They tend to be strong people like Trump with large vision, lots of charisma, oratorical magnetism and a powerful drive to get results. They are less concerned with dangers in the future than with transforming it.

He calls these “productive narcissists” and includes among their ranks Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, as well as recent corporate leaders like Jack Welch, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. (He doesn’t name but presumably would include Eleanor Roosevelt, Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir.)

But there are traps for “productive narcissists” — and here’s where the Trump saga gets interesting. As narcissistic leaders experience one success after another, they face a danger of believing more and more in their own infallibility and less in the judgment of others.

[ . . . ]

Freud argues, and Maccoby agrees, that narcissistic leaders can become increasingly isolated and distrustful of others. They develop thin skin and lash out when questioned. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, for all his brilliance, publicly humiliated his subordinates. In more extreme cases, they become relentless and ruthless; their response to critics turns into apparent vengeance. Sound familiar?

[ . . . ]

David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been a White House adviser to four presidents. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a professor of public service and co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at The Harvard Kennedy School.

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Trump on the journalist’s couch

The Truth About Donald Trump’s Narcissism (Jeffrey Kluger, Time, Aug. 11, 2015) — The problem with being Trump is the same thing that explains the enormous fame and success of Trump: a naked neediness, a certain shamelessness, an insatiable hunger to be the largest, loudest, most honkingly conspicuous presence in any room. … To call Donald Trump a narcissist is, of course, to state the clinically obvious. There is the egotism of narcissism, the grandiosity of narcissism, the social obtuseness of narcissism. … Their act becomes old, their opponents become bold, and the audience—inevitably—moves onto something else. Trump the phenomenon will surely become Trump the afterthought. He is a man who desperately hungers for respect and attention and who, by dint of that very desperation, will likely wind up with neither.

The Junk Politics of 2015 (Timothy Egan, New York Times, Aug. 14, 2015) — Normal politics can’t explain Trump. For that you need Freud. Trump fits the classic definition of narcissistic personality disorder. …



Personalities Pack GOP Debate

Fox News primary debate candidates

By Aubrey Immelman
St. Cloud Times
August 6, 2015

Thursday at 8 p.m., the top 10 leading candidates for the Republican nomination for president — as determined by debate host Fox News based on national opinion surveys — will take the stage in Cleveland.

Whether a candidate makes a positive or negative impression is largely a function of personality, meaning a person’s typical patterns of thinking, acting, feeling and relating to others.

The purpose of this debate preview — a “briefing book” of sorts — is to offer viewers a rundown of the personalities on display in Cleveland.

So here’s a quick psychological rundown of debate participants in order of their standing in GOP presidential preference polls as ranked by Fox.

Donald Trump: High-dominance charismatic

You won’t need a Ph.D. in psychology to recognize that Donald Trump has the biggest ego in the house. But not so fast: Although narcissism is commonly employed as a pejorative, the charismatic self-confidence it exudes is arguably the greatest asset a candidate can have in the quest to attract public support — particularly when combined with extroversion, as in the case of Trump. (Case in point: Bill Clinton.)

The problem for narcissists is that their inflated ego is contained in a very thin skin. Puncture it, and the consequences can be catastrophic. For Trump, the challenge will be to restrain the impulse to lash out at his detractors — and if he can’t, at least to do so in a manner that seems “presidential.”

Jeb Bush: Conscientious, forceful introvert

Jeb Bush will be the most conscientious, serious-minded candidate on stage, and also the most introverted. While those are great assets in the Oval Office, the personality traits in question do not play well in campaign politics, because the candidate comes across to voters as wooden, stiff and boring. (Case in point: Mitt Romney, with Al Gore as the worst-case scenario in recent presidential elections.) Expect Bush to be well prepared but struggling to get noticed or make a headline.

Scott Walker: Conscientious enforcer

Scott Walker, like Bush, is primarily conscientious, but unlike Bush, is not an introvert. In terms of public perception of likability, that plays in his favor. Nonetheless, it won’t be easy for Walker to grab the spotlight on the crowded stage.

Mike Huckabee: Dominant, self-confident, extravert

In terms of political charisma, the confident, outgoing Mike Huckabee is the candidate closest to Trump, though a distant second. He also is one of the most congenial candidates in the mix, scoring points for likability. But alas, Huckabee’s challenge in the debate will be not to have his star eclipsed by Trump.

Ben Carson: Self-assured, conscientious operator

Perhaps the best way to characterize Ben Carson is that he’s the kind of person you’d trust to perform surgery on your child. He is confident and conscientious, but not excessively so. The problem for the sedate Carson will be to attract attention in a crowd populated by more flamboyant, aggressive candidates.

Ted Cruz: Confident dominator

Ted Cruz will be one of the most dominant, self-confident personalities on stage, but not as outgoing as some of the other candidates, which renders him somewhat lacking in charisma. Nonetheless, expect Cruz to make his voice heard, though likely overshadowed by in-your-face candidates like Trump or Chris Christie.

Marco Rubio: Confident extravert

Marco Rubio is confident and outgoing, but modestly so in comparison with candidates like Trump or Huckabee. In a manner of speaking, Rubio’s personal appeal has more of a warm glow than the bright spark of charisma. He also lacks the dominance of several of his onstage rivals, which portends that he may come up short in the skill to make a big splash in the debate. That said, Rubio is one of the more accommodating in the constellation of candidates, which serves as a stock raiser in the likability stakes.

Rand Paul: Confident, resolute individualist

Paralleling his libertarian ideological bent, Rand Paul is the most individualistic personality among the slate of candidates. Although he is self-confident, he is not outgoing and, in fact, is somewhat prickly. That makes him less appealing to voters in terms of likability. In addition, Paul is quite conscientious, which is to say he runs the risk that some voters may perceive him as preachy, dull and uninspiring.

Chris Christie: Dominant, self-confident extravert

The prospect of mortal combat between Chris “Sit Down and Shut Up!” Christie and Trump is probably one of the most anticipated features of the debate, and not without reason. In terms of dominance, Christie strongly rivals Trump and is not too far behind in self-confidence and extroversion, which translates to personal charisma. Provided the moderators don’t keep the candidate on too short a leash, viewers can indeed expect a battle royal.

John Kasich: Dark horse

Yes, “dark horse” does not befit the parlance of psychological assessment. As one of the last Republican candidates to declare his candidacy, John Kasich’s late entry into the race did not permit sufficient time for detailed empirical analysis.

Based purely on informal observation, Kasich seems most similar to Carson: self-confident, moderately conscientious and mildly dominant. However, Kasich also seems relatively outgoing and congenial, in which he most resembles Huckabee.

Though these traits may not propel Kasich to center stage, they likely signify staying power and the makings of a good general-election prospect.

No doubt the debate will offer up some unexpected surprises, but this psychological “premortem” should serve to highlight some of the personal dynamics to look out for in sizing up the candidates as they audition before the electorate on a national stage.

This is the opinion of Aubrey Immelman, associate professor of psychology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where he directs a faculty-student collaborative research program in political psychology, the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics.


Credit: Bill Day / Cagle Cartoons via St. Cloud Times

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(April 24, 2015)

Scott Walker poster 2015-04
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SIDEBAR

Fox News debate cartoon
Fox News debate cartoon (Source)



A psychological analysis of former Florida governor Jeb Bush — a contender for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election — by Atarah Pinder and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Bush’s predominant personality pattern is Conscientious / dutiful and Retiring / aloof, with secondary Dominant / asserting features. In summary, Bush’s personality composite can be characterized as a conscientious, forceful introvert.

Bush poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

Following is a summary of the major findings of the study, as published in an opinion column in the St. Cloud Times.

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Jeb: Lackluster, Indifferent? Voters May Think So

Jeb Bush
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaks at a small business town hall meeting Monday in Longwood, Fla. (Photo: AP)

By Atarah Pinder
St. Cloud Times
August 2, 2015

It isn’t always easy being the son and brother of past presidents. Ask Jeb Bush.

In June, former Florida Gov. John Ellis Bush, who goes by the nickname Jeb, formally announced his presidential run. Being a member of arguably the most prominent political dynasty in American history undoubtedly has its advantages.

However, Jeb Bush must also confront the daunting task of differentiating himself from his father, George H. W. Bush, and distancing himself from some of the less admirable aspects of his older brother George W. Bush’s legacy — most notably the invasion of Iraq.

That dilemma has left the younger Bush trying to convince voters that although he is a Bush, he is his “own man” whose views are shaped by his own thinking and unique experiences.

Although Jeb and his brother George “Dubya” are both Republican and therefore share a common ideological outlook and political philosophy on public policy issues, a close examination of Jeb’s personality characteristics reveals stark contrasts to his brother’s personality profile, but some notable similarities to his father’s.

Empirical analysis of Bush’s personality at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University’s Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics utilized the 170-item Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria, which assesses the attribute domains of expressive behavior, interpersonal conduct, cognitive style, mood/temperament and self-image.

Conscientious, forceful introvert

There is considerable value in examining the personal qualities of political leaders. Precisely because personality refers to the consistent patterns, over time and across situations, of an individual’s way of thinking, acting, feeling, and relating to others, accurate personality assessment allows us to anticipate a leader’s response to a broad range of issues and situations they are likely to face in office.

Bush’s primary personality patterns were found to be Conscientious/dutiful and Retiring/aloof, with secondary features of the Dominant/asserting and Ambitious/confident patterns.

Bush’s combination of conscientious, retiring (reserved), and dominant patterns points to a personality complex best characterized as a “conscientious, forceful introvert.”

He completed college in two and a half years, is a self-proclaimed policy wonk, and prides himself in working 12–16 hours per day. These attributes reflect his highly conscientiousness personality — similar to the Bush patriarch but in stark contrast to his older brother, who scored quite low on this personality trait. People with Jeb’s levels of conscientiousness are characteristically industrious, organized, detail-oriented, dependable, principled, and aspire to political office out of a sense of duty.

Leadership implications

Conscientious leaders excel at formulating and implementing policy. They are potentially competent, deliberative leaders; however, in an era of made-for-TV elections, their buttoned-down, cautious, scripted personal style serves as a stumbling block to winning the White House. Recent cases in point: Al Gore and Mitt Romney. In short, they find it difficult to woo voters and court the media.

Furthermore, in stark contrast to his brother, Jeb is an introvert — much more reserved than the extroverted, more gregarious Dubya. By virtue of his decidedly reticent nature, Jeb may be perceived as lacking warmth, distant or unsociable. This in part, along with his conscientiousness, constitutes a significant barrier to connecting with voters on a personal level.

Finally, like many politicians who strive to attain higher public office, Bush has a distinct dominant tendency. Voters perceive this aspect of personality as indicative of strong leadership, which is perhaps the strongest redeeming feature regarding Jeb’s electability, along with his family connections and the donor base that comes with it. Jeb’s dominance, along with a strong sense of self-efficacy rooted in ambitious, confident personality traits, paints the picture of a person who is competitive, driven, and determined to succeed in all aspects of his life.

But does Jeb Bush have what it takes to be a world leader? He undoubtedly has the requisite executive experience and personal attributes to provide competent leadership.

What remains in doubt is whether Bush can muster the interpersonal skills crucial for galvanizing American voters. By and large, that particular psychological skill set for the most part is simply inconsistent with his nature. Unfortunately for Jeb, many potential supporters simply may write him off as lackluster, indifferent and stiff.

This is the opinion of Atarah Pinder, Nassau, Bahamas, a senior psychology major at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where she is a summer research fellow in the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, directed by Aubrey Immelman.

Pinder-Atarah_2015-07
Atarah Pinder, Nassau, Bahamas (Submitted photo)

About this series

This is the second in an occasional series of personality profiles of most of the Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election. Atarah Pinder is a research assistant at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics led by associate professor Aubrey Immelman at St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict. Immelman specializes in the psychological assessment of presidential candidates and world leaders.

The unit’s summer research program focused on GOP contenders because of the unprecedented proliferation of hopefuls and the unit’s mission to help the public make better informed voting choices. The unit will profile the major Democratic contenders next summer.

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8/6/2015 Update

2015-08-05_Atarah-Pinder
Atarah Pinder presents her summer research on the political personality of presidential candidate Jeb Bush at the Undergraduate Research Poster Session, College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn, Aug. 5, 2015. (Photo: Pam Bacon)

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The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump (Aug. 9, 2015)

Trump poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Scott Walker (July 26, 2015)

Walker poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

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Republican presidential contenders (from left to right and top to bottom) Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum (Photo credits: Gage Skidmore, officeholder official portraits / Wikipedia)

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Scott Walker poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view of April 2015 pilot study



A psychological analysis of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker — a contender for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election — by Joe Trenzeluk and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Walker’s predominant personality pattern is Conscientious / dutiful and Dominant / controlling, with secondary Ambitious / confident features. In summary, Walker’s personality composite can be characterized as a conscientious enforcer.

Walker poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

Following is a summary of the major findings of the study, as published in an opinion column in the St. Cloud Times.

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What Does Personality Analysis Say About Walker?

Nominee Walker faces embarassment
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addresses employees and members of the media July 12 at Valveworks USA prior to signing the state’s 2015-2017 budget on the production floor of the Waukesha, Wis., company. (Photo: John Hart / Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

By Joe Trenzeluk
St. Cloud Times
July 26, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker earlier this month formally threw his hat in the ring as a Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential election. It came as no surprise that Walker entered the race; he had been signaling his intent for months and recent polls have consistently ranked him in the top tier of the crowded Republican field.

The unprecedented multitude of Republican hopefuls makes it more challenging than ever to evaluate the candidates and distinguish them from one another. Ultimately, 16 declared candidates are expected to be in the mix when the first Republican debate takes place Aug. 6 in Cleveland.

Because all of the candidates share a common party-political platform, their policy differences for the most part are on the margins. For that reason, a good point of departure in evaluating the relative merits of the candidates is to look beyond their policy positions and see what kind of person each candidate is, at base.

Identifying the personality characteristics of political leaders matters because personality captures the stable, enduring patterns in a person’s motives, thoughts and actions over time and across situations. Thus, accurate personality assessment allows us to anticipate a leader’s response to a broad range of contingencies that could confront them in office.

Empirical analysis of Walker’s personality at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University’s Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics utilized the 170-item Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria, which assesses the attribute domains of expressive behavior, interpersonal conduct, cognitive style, mood/temperament and self-image.

Conscientious enforcer

Walker’s primary personality pattern was found to be dominant/controlling, with secondary features of the conscientious/dutiful and ambitious/confident patterns.

The combination of dominant and conscientious patterns in Walker’s profile suggests a personality composite best described as a conscientious enforcer. By virtue of their high conscientiousness, this type of individual typically is earnest, deliberative, hard-working, principled and bound by rules and a sense of duty. They are often religious and place a great deal of importance on maintaining their integrity and upholding moral standards.

The dominant, “enforcer” aspect of this personality composite suggests an individual who is strong-willed, commanding and assertive. This dominance, complemented by substantial self-confidence (as in the case of Walker), also points to an individual with a competitive, goal-oriented drive to succeed.

Leadership implications

News reports commonly portray Walker as a “low-key Midwesterner” or a “somewhat bland, boring, and uncharismatic persona.” To some degree, these assertions fit with his personality profile in that conscientious individuals tend to have a serious, emotionally controlled demeanor; in short, Walker’s polite, respectful manner may at times come across as somewhat awkward and rigid.

Walker’s particular personality pattern has important leadership implications. Conscientious enforcers like Walker have the work ethic, managerial competence and drive to push tirelessly — even obstinately — for new initiatives, reform and policy implementation.

Overall, Walker has a personality well suited for high-level, high-stakes politics. However, on a personal level, the big test for the Walker campaign will be the candidate’s ability to restrain — or transcend — the more restrictive, buttoned-down aspects of his conscientious nature and allow more personable, easygoing qualities to shine through.

Unless he succeeds in engaging, energizing and inspiring voters at a more personal level, it will be difficult for Walker to separate himself from the crowded Republican field.

This is the opinion of Joe Trenzeluk, Inver Grove Heights, a senior psychology major at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where he is a summer research fellow in the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, directed by Aubrey Immelman.

Trenzeluk-Joe_2015
Joe Trenzeluk, Inver Grove Heights (Submitted photo)

About this series

This is the first in an occasional series of personality profiles of most of the Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election. Joe Trenzeluk is a research assistant at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics led by associate professor Aubrey Immelman at St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict. Immelman specializes in the psychological assessment of presidential candidates and world leaders.

The unit’s summer research program focused on GOP contenders because of the unprecedented proliferation of hopefuls and the unit’s mission to help the public make better informed voting choices. The unit will profile the major Democratic contenders next summer.

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8/6/2015 Update

2015-08-05_Joe-Trenzeluk
Joe Trenzeluk presents his summer research on the political personality of presidential candidate Scott Walker at the Undergraduate Research Poster Session, College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn, Aug. 5, 2015. (Photo: Pam Bacon)

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Scott Walker poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view of April 2015 pilot study




Game statistics: 14 of 16 (87.5%) shooting; 2 for 2 FT.

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The large number of declared and prospective Republican presidential candidates in the 2016 election cycle — at least 16 viable candidates by one count (see graphic below) — poses a challenge for the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, which aims to release psychological profiles of all debate participants prior to the first GOP debate, presented by Fox News in collaboration with Facebook Aug. 6 in Cleveland.

GOP-polling_2015-May

To qualify for inclusion in the Fox News debate, a candidate “must place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls by Aug. 4.” (Matea Gold, Fox News rules will limit the field in first GOP presidential debate, Washington Post, May 20, 2015)

The top 10 contenders in the five most recent national polls are former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, real estate tycoon Donald Trump and former Texas governor Rick Perry, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Former U.S. senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are a fraction of a point behind Perry.

Lagging behind those 12 are Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and former New York governor George Pataki.

For the second GOP debate Sept. 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., CNN plans to split the candidate forum into two parts — “one featuring the top 10 candidates in public polling and a second that will include lower-tiered candidates who garner at least 1 percent in polls,” according to the Washington Post.

The current status of USPP psychological profiling research with respect to GOP candidates is as follows:

Jeb Bush — in progress [Update: study completed August 2015]
Marco Rubio — preliminary study completed April 2015
Scott Walker – preliminary study [Update: study completed July 2015]
Rand Paul — preliminary study completed April 2015
Ted Cruz — preliminary study completed April 2015
Mike Huckabee — preliminary study completed April 2015
Ben Carson — in progress; data collection started May 2015
Chris Christie — preliminary study completed April 2015
Donald Trump — in progress [Update: study completed August 2015]
Rick Perry — preliminary study completed April 2015
Rick Santorum — preliminary study completed April 2012
John Kasich — data collection pending pending top-10 polling
Lindsey Graham — data collection pending top-10 polling
Bobby Jindal — data collection pending  top-10 polling
Carly Fiorina — data collection pending top-10 polling
George Pataki — data collection pending top-10 polling



Republican presidential contenders (from left to right and top to bottom) Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum (Photo credits: Gage Skidmore, officeholder official portraits / Wikipedia

Republican Presidential Debate Schedule

The RNC Is Going With Only Nine Debates This Time

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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus had previously vowed to cut down the number of debates in the 2016 presidential election cycle from the more than 27 debates held during the 2012 cycle. (Photo credit: AP / Lenny Ignelzi)

By Daniel Strauss
Livewire
January 16, 2015

The Republican National Committee on Friday announced nine presidential primary debates with three more possible for the 2016 cycle. …

Just one debate per state was sanctioned, fewer than the more than 27 debates held during the 2012 cycle. …

Below is the list of debates, including three that were pending when the RNC announced the schedule:

1. Fox News — August 2015 — Ohio
2. CNN — September 2015 — California
3. CNBC — October 2015 — Colorado
4. Fox Business — November 2015 — Wisconsin
5. CNN — December 2015 — Nevada
6. Fox News — January 2016 — Iowa
7. ABC News — February 2016 — New Hampshire
8. CBS News — February 2016 — South Carolina
9. NBC/Telemundo — February 2016 — Florida

Pending:

Fox News — March 2016 — TBD
CNN — March 2016 — TBD
Conservative Media Debate — Date TBD — Locations TBD

Full report

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8/6/2015 Update

Google News Lab county-by-county look at which candidates are being searched the most.

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8/11/2015 Update

Who’s Winning the G.O.P. Campaign?

New York Times interactive

History suggests that the eventual nominee will emerge from 2015 in one of the top two or three positions, as measured by endorsements, fund-raising and polling. Here, we offer a scoreboard that totes up the factors that matter most, and we’ll update it every day for the remainder of the year.

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Related reports on this site

Fox News Debate Preview: Comparative Psychological Profiles of the Republican Field (Aug. 6, 2015)

Fox News primary debate candidates

Psychological Profiles of 2016 GOP Presidential Candidates (April 24, 2015)

Walker_Illustration-by-Sarah-Rodgers_The-Daily-Beast



Students Present Research at Scholarship Day

2015-04-23_Pinder_Ted-Cruz
Atarah Pinder presents her poster “The Political Personality of 2016 Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz” at Scholarship and Creativity Day, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, April 23, 2015. (Click photo for full-size image)

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. (Apr. 23, 2015) — Psychological profiles of declared and prospective Republican presidential candidates in the 2016 U.S. presidential election were presented today, April 23, 2015, at “Celebrating Scholarship and Creativity Day,” an annual event to recognize students, faculty, and staff who have undertaken significant research, scholarship, or creative works during the past academic year at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict.

Undergraduate students in a Personality Psychology course at the colleges conducted the research under the auspices of the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, directed by Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology.

Biographical and life history data concerning the candidates was collected from media reports and synthesized into personality profiles using the third edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with DSM–5.

The following research projects were presented:

The Political Personality of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
Preliminary Findings
[Updated]

Chris Christie poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view

By McKenzie Neu, Joe Trenzeluk, Alexandra Latanision, Jack Schweich, and Emily Lueck

Abstract: Chris Christie’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant / controlling, complemented by secondary Outgoing / gregarious and Ambitious / self-serving features, and a Dauntless / adventurous tendency. In summary, Christie’s personality composite can be characterized as “dominant, self-confident, extraverted.”

The Personality Profile of 2016 Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view

By Atarah Pinder, Yilian Li, Anna Wagner, Theresa Hickman, Yee Her, and Sarah Blaida

Abstract: Ted Cruz’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant / controlling, complemented by secondary Ambitious / confident and Dauntless / adventurous features, and a possible Contentious / resolute tendency. In summary, Cruz’s personality composite can be characterized as “risk-taking, confident, controlling.”

The Personality Profile of Prospective 2016 Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view

By Joseph Wonderlich, Demetre Koukouves, Emily Berthiaume, and Matt Plessel

Abstract: Mike Huckabee’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant / controlling, complemented by secondary Ambitious / confident and Outgoing / congenial features, and a Dauntless / adventurous tendency. In summary, Huckabee’s personality composite can be characterized as “dominant, ambitious, extraverted.”

The Personality Profile of 2016 Presidential Candidate Rand Paul

Rand Paul poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view

By Katherine Stelzner, Anh Doan, Natalie Gannon, and Katie Miller

Abstract: Rand Paul’s primary personality pattern was found to be Ambitious / confident, complemented by secondary Dominant / asserting and Conscientious / respectful features, and a possible Contentious / resolute tendency. In summary, Paul’s personality composite can be characterized as “confident, resolute, individualistic.”

The Personality Profile of Prospective 2016 Presidential Candidate Rick Perry

Rick Perry poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view

By Demetre Koukouves, April Donovan, Natalie Lambert, and Shuhan Yi

Abstract: Rick Perry’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant / asserting, complemented by secondary Dauntless / adventurous, Ambitious / confident, and Outgoing / congenial features. In summary, Perry’s personality composite can be characterized as “dominant, risk-taking, extraverted.”

The Personality Profile of 2016 Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio
Preliminary Findings

Marco Rubio poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view

By Zachary Bigaouette, Tyree Kidd, and Sarah Catcher

Abstract: Marco Rubio’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant / asserting, complemented by secondary Ambitious / confident and Conscientious / respectful features, and a possible Outgoing / congenial tendency. In summary, Rubio’s personality composite can be characterized as “assertive, confident, organized, extraverted.” Due to the relatively small amount of data collected – as reflected by the low profile elevations – the assessment should at best be considered a pilot study.

The Personality Profile of Prospective 2016 Presidential Candidate Scott Walker
Preliminary Findings
[Updated]

Scott Walker poster 2015-04
Click on image for larger view

By Victoria Beach, Paul Kress, Colin Fisher, Megan Lutz, and Angel Aguilera

Abstract: Scott Walker’s primary personality pattern was found to be Accommodating / cooperative, complemented by secondary Ambitious / confident features. In summary, Walker’s personality composite can be characterized as “confident, accommodating.” However, given Walker’s confrontational track record as governor, the assessment lacks face validity – most likely due to the relatively small amount of data collected, as reflected by the low profile elevations. Thus, the assessment should at best be considered a pilot study.

Note: Studies of Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina are currently in progress.

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Updates

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Scott Walker
(July 26, 2015)

Walker poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

By Joe Trenzeluk

Abstract: Scott Walker’s predominant personality patterns were found to be Conscientious / dutiful and Dominant / controlling, with secondary Ambitious / confident features. In summary, Walker’s personality composite can be characterized as a “conscientious enforcer.”

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush (Aug. 2, 2015)

Bush poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

By Atarah Pinder

Abstract: Jeb Bush’s predominant personality patterns were found to be Conscientious / dutiful and Retiring / aloof,  with secondary Dominant / asserting features. In summary, Bush’s personality composite can be characterized as a “conscientious, forceful introvert.”

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump (Aug. 9, 2015)

Trump poster (July 2015)
Click on image for larger view

By Hannah Hoppe

Abstract: Donald Trump’s predominant personality patterns were found to be Ambitious / self-serving, Dominant / controlling, and Outgoing / gregarious. In summary, Trump’s personality composite can be characterized as a “high-dominance charismatic.”

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Chris Christie (Aug. 16, 2015)

Chris Christie poster 2015-08
Click on image for larger view

By Joe Trenzeluk

Abstract: Chris Christie’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant / controlling, with secondary Ambitious / confident and Dauntless / Adventurous features, along with Outgoing / congenial and Contentious / resolute tendencies. In summary, Christie’s personality composite can be characterized as a “dominant, self-confident, risk-taking extravert.”

The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Ben Carson (Aug. 30, 2015)

Carson poster (2015-08)
Click on image for larger view

By Hannah Hoppe

Abstract: Ben Carson’s most prominent personality patterns were found to be Dominant / assertive, Ambitious / confident, and Conscientious / respectful. In summary, Carson’s personality composite can be characterized as a “confident, deliberative organizer.”

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Related reports on this site


Click on image for larger view

Rick Santorum Personality Profile (April 26, 2012)

Tim Pawlenty Personality Profile (June 16, 2011)

Michele Bachmann Personality Profile (June 13, 2011)

Mitt Romney Personality Profile (June 2, 2011)

Joe Biden Personality Profile (April 17, 2009)

Barack Obama Personality Profile (Feb. 21, 2009)

John McCain Personality Profile (Nov. 2, 2008)


(Clockwise from right front) Feiran Chen, Beth Peichel, Wade Kohls, Rachel Heying, Sara Duxbury, and Amanda Nusbaum presented their poster “The Personality Profile of 2012 Presidential Contender Rick Santorum” in the run-up to the 2012 U.S. presidential election at Scholarship and Creativity Day, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, April 25, 2012. (Photo: Aubrey Immelman; click photo for larger image)