Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Research paper

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Topical report

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

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

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis

April 15, 2018


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

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

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

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

Full report



Related reports on this site

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

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

Romney poster (2013)
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