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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.


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.

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.


Updates: Related interest


8/5/2015 Update

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Jeb Bush in second place among 16 candidates, at 12.8%, with Donald Trump the front-runner at 23.2%.


8/6/2015 Update

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)


Note: Personal Electability Index (political impact) score

Jeb Bush scores extraordinarily low 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 Jeb Bush:

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


2/6/2016 Update

Jeb’s Most Awkward, Dignity-Losing, Cringey Moments:
The Definitive Guide

Jeb Bush (Photo: Elise Amendola /The Associated Press)

By Katherine Krueger
Talking Points Memo
February 4, 2016


Long considered the heir apparent in the 2016 Republican race, Bush is now campaigning like a man with nothing left to lose. He’s been polling in the mid-to-lower tier of the still-crowded GOP field for months. He finished a disappointing sixth in the Iowa caucuses, more than 20 points behind Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald Trump, and shelled out nearly $3,000 for each vote he earned there.

But Bush’s fall from grace hasn’t been boring. The candidate who once pledged to “joyfully” campaign now regularly cracks self-aware jokes about his less-than-stellar standing in the race. These moments from the campaign trail are captivating, mostly because it’s difficult to discern whether they capture genuine humiliation or showcase Bush’s famously dry wit. …

Read more at TPM


2/20/2016 Update

Jeb Bush Suspends His Campaign

By MJ Lee and Ashley Killough
February 20, 2016

Columbia, South Carolina — Haunted by his famous last name and perpetually stuck in the shadows of his anti-establishment rivals, Jeb Bush repeatedly confronted rejection by voters and frustrating setbacks throughout the 2016 presidential race.

In South Carolina Saturday night Bush suspended his White House campaign and acknowledged a painful reality: The country was not interested in a third President Bush.

Bush’s disappointing finish in the Palmetto State became the final straw for his floundering campaign. The end was all the more personal because the former Florida governor had poured his energy into the state, invoking his family’s political legacy at one campaign stop after another and facing down voters who questioned his campaign strategy.

As they zigzagged the state, Bush and his surrogates reminded voters that the Bush clan is popular — even beloved — in South Carolina. It gave important primary victories to Bush’s father and brother, and George W. Bush remains very popular among Republicans here.

But at his primary night party at a hotel ballroom in Columbia, an emotional Bush acknowledged that there was nothing more he could do.

“The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken and I really respect their decision, so tonight I am suspending my campaign,” Bush said, as the audience gasped. …

Read the full report at CNN


2/23/2016 Update

How Jeb Bush spent $130 million running for president with nothing to show for it (New York Times, Feb. 22, 2016) — When Jeb Bush formally entered the presidential campaign in June, there was already more money behind him than every other Republican candidate combined. When he suspended his campaign on Saturday night in South Carolina, Mr. Bush had burned through the vast majority of that cash without winning a single state. It may go down as one of the least successful campaign spending binges in history. … Full report


Related reports on this site

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

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

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

Trump 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)

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