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On the psychology of politics, media attention of late has focused on Donald Trump’s narcissism (see “Amateurs analyze Trump’s mind, but should the pros do it?” by Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, Aug. 11, 2016). However, in the context of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Trump’s narcissism is not the main issue; Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, have identical Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria scores on narcissism (MIDC scale 2: Ambitious = 24).

Confident-Narcissistic_spectrum
© 2015 MILLON®

A narcissistic personality can be socially and politically adaptive (functional, nonpathological) if complemented and balanced by appropriately congruent personality patterns, as in the case of Hillary Clinton — at least insofar as erratic, undisciplined political behavior is concerned.

The critical difference between the Republican and Democratic nominees is their score on extraversion (MIDC scale 3: Outgoing; Trump = 24, Clinton = 0), which at higher elevations — as in the case of Trump — may be tantamount to a histrionic personality disorder.

Sociable-Histrionic_spectrum
© 2015 MILLON®

Trump’s high score on the MIDC Outgoing scale accounts for his impulsiveness and lack of discipline and self-restraint (frequently referred to in media commentary as “no filter”).

Trump’s impulsive tendency is exacerbated by his remarkably low score on conscientiousness (MIDC scale 6: Conscientious = 0). Clinton, in contrast, is substantially conscientious (MIDC scale 6: Conscientious = 15), which is associated with emotional restraint, self-discipline, and prudence.

Conscientious-Compulsive_spectrum
© 2015 MILLON®

Following personality theorist Theodore Millon, here’s a quick rundown of personality attributes associated with high elevations on the Outgoing pattern, which approaches histrionic levels in the case of Trump but fails to register on Clinton’s MIDC profile:

Expressive behavior: Dramatic/Impulsive — engaging, provocative, volatile; intolerant of inactivity, resulting in impulsive, highly emotional, and theatrical responsiveness.

Interpersonal conduct: Attention-seeking/Flamboyant — actively solicits attention and approval; vain and exhibitionistic, seeking to be the center of attention.

Cognitive style: Flighty/Scattered — avoids introspective thought, attentive to fleeting external events, and speaks in impressionistic generalities; integrates experiences poorly, resulting in scattered learning and thoughtless judgments.

Self-image: Gregarious/Charming — views self as sociable, stimulating, and charming; enjoys the image of attracting others by physical appearance and pursuing a busy and pleasure-oriented lifestyle.

Mood/temperament: Fickle/Impetuous — rapidly-shifting and shallow emotions; energetic, animated, hotheaded or impulsive, and exhibits a tendency to be easily enthused and as easily angered or bored.

Summary and formulation

To take the full measure of the man, political analysts must consider the interplay between Donald Trump’s ambitious (“narcissistic”) and outgoing (“histrionic”) tendencies, as described in the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria manual:

Persons who score high on both the Ambitious and Outgoing scales are clever and charming; they are skilled at attracting and seducing others. Though highly ambitious, Ambitious–Outgoing individuals also tend to be undisciplined, traveling an erratic course of successes, failures, and abandoned hopes. Needing excitement, stimulation, and challenge, they are easily bored by routine activities and often act impulsively. They exhibit a restless, driven quality, which may be accompanied by a deficit in social dependability. Because agreements are often hastily assumed, they may have trouble honoring their promises or meeting their obligations. Ultimately, they are more attuned to their own needs than to those of others.

Though fundamentally self-oriented, these individuals are facile in the ways of social seduction, often feign an air of dignity and confidence, and are skilled at deceiving others with their clever glibness. They fabricate stories to enhance their worth and leave behind a trail of broken promises and outrageous acts. Fabrication serves both to nourish their inflated self-image and to seduce others into supporting their excesses; however, their disregard for the truth and talents for exploitation and deception are rarely hostile or malicious in intent. Typically, it is simply a product of their narcissistic attitude of omnipotence and their profound sense of entitlement; fundamentally, they are not malevolent. Criticism, confrontation, and punishment are unlikely to make them change their ways and, in fact, may prompt dismissive rage or anger.

For more information, please consult the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics Media Tipsheet at http://personality-politics.org/2016-election-media-tipsheet/

 


 

Related reports on this site

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

Trump poster (2016)
Click on image for larger view

The Personality Profile of 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton (July 27, 2016)

Hillary-Clinton_poster_July-2016
Click on image for larger view

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11 Responses to “Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Not the Main Issue”
  1. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » The Personality Profile of 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Says:

    […] Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Not the Main Issue (Aug. 11, 2016) […]

  2. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » The Personality Profile of 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Says:

    […] Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Not the Main Issue (Aug. 11, 2016) […]

  3. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Behind the Clinton E-mails: The Psychological Profile of Hillary Rodham Clinton Says:

    […] Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Not the Main Issue (Aug. 11, 2016) […]

  4. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Who Will Win the Clinton-Trump Presidential Debate? Says:

    […] Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Not the Main Issue […]

  5. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    Re: Comment that “We have a contest between a mega-ego with mega-mouth attached and the personification of the cliche view of a self-serving sleezy politician” at http://www.sctimes.com/story/opinion/2016/09/27/leave-mud-behind-next-debate/91158344/

    Your reference to Trump’s mega-ego implies narcissism, but you might find it interesting to know that my empirical studies of Trump and Clinton reveal identical Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria scores on narcissism (MIDC scale 2 = 24).

    Narcissism also happens to be the highest scale elevations for both Trump and Clinton — so they’re both primarily narcissistic.

    The main difference is that Trump is equally high on a scale that measures impulsiveness (what you call his mega-mouth). In contrast, Clinton is high on a scale at the opposite end of the spectrum that measures discipline, making that the key personality distinction between the candidates.

    I explain my findings here: http://www.immelman.us/news/donald-trumps-narcissism-is-not-the-main-issue/

  6. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Donald Trump’s Temperament: Trump’s Fitness to be President Says:

    […] Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Not the Main Issue (Aug. 11, 2016) […]

  7. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Why Donald Trump Will Not Step Down — Personality Identical to Bill Clinton’s Says:

    […] Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Not the Main Issue (Aug. 11, 2016) […]

  8. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    Cross-posted from “The method in Donald Trump’s maddening communications habits” (Gerald F. Seib, Capital Journal, The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2, 2017) at http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-method-in-donald-trumps-maddening-communications-habits-1483377825

    The article poses the question “Is it method or madness?” (i.e., reason or emotion) and proceeds to outline three rationales for Donald Trump’s social media communication habits: (1) positioning himself for a negotiation or a deal; (2) seeking to control the agenda; and (3) creating rabbits for others to chase.

    All three hypothesized purposes lean in the direction of cognition-driven rational motives. A fourth rationale to consider is the possibility of emotion-driven personality variables.

    Specifically, Donald Trump is the most sociable, extraverted president since Bill Clinton — but the many positive implications of those traits for retail politics constitute a double-edged sword on account of that particular personality pattern’s associated features of impulsiveness and a lack of discipline and self-restraint.

    More » http://www.immelman.us/news/donald-trumps-narcissism-is-not-the-main-issue/

    Personality has consequences.

  9. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Is Donald Trump a Malignant Narcissist? Says:

    […] Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Not the Main Issue (Aug. 11, 2016) […]

  10. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    Donald Trump’s FACE gives away his leadership style: Researchers say it shows an ‘aggressive, dominant and powerful’ man – but one prone to act unethically (Stacy Liberatore, Daily Mail, January 20, 2017).

    The article reports a recent study in “Scientific American Mind” of psychopathic traits in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and other historical figures by Dr. Kevin Dutton of Oxford University, using the Psychopathic Personality Inventory – Revised (PPI-R).

    Trump outscored Clinton overall on the PPI-R’s Fearless Dominance, Self-Centered Impulsivity, and Coldheartedness subscales.

    Of particular note in this study is Trump’s high PPI-R score on Self-Centered Impulsivity.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4142086/Donald-Trump-s-FACE-gives-away-leadership-style.html

  11. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    The psychology of narcissism » https://www.facebook.com/TEDEducation/videos/1331787700167766/

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