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American Politics | Leadership Studies | Other Political Science | Other Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts


This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic nominee in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The present report combines data from five studies conducted between 1998 and 2016 from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.

Psychodiagnostically relevant data about Clinton 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–IV.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed in accordance with interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Clinton’s predominant personality patterns were found to be Ambitious/self-serving (a measure of narcissism) and Dominant/controlling, infused with secondary features of the Conscientious/dutiful and Retiring/reserved patterns and some indication of Distrusting/suspicious features.

In summary, Clinton’s personality composite can be labeled elitist narcissism, or, in political terms, as the profile of a deliberative high-dominance introvert — deliberative by virtue of her substantial conscientiousness.

Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and often act as though entitled. Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they are tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. Conscientious leaders are dutiful and diligent, with a strong work ethic and careful attention to detail, and often excel in crafting public policy. On the downside, conscientious leaders often lack the retail political skills required to consummate their policy objectives. In short, they are more technocratic than visionary. Retiring (introverted) individuals tend not to develop strong ties to others, are somewhat deficient in the ability to recognize the needs or feelings of others, and may lack spontaneity and vitality. In American politics, introverted leaders face serious challenges in attaining high-level public office because of their difficulty in connecting emotionally with voters and the media.

Clinton’s major personality strengths in a political role are her confident assertiveness and commanding demeanor. Her major personality-based shortcomings are uncompromising assertiveness, a lack of empathy and congeniality, and cognitive inflexibility.

The major implication of the study is that it offers an empirically based personological framework for identifying Clinton’s major personal strengths and limitations as a candidate and anticipating her likely leadership style as president.


The research was conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics (USPP), a collaborative faculty–student research program in the psychology of politics at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict in Collegeville and St. Joseph, Minnesota, directed by Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, who specializes in the psychological assessment of presidential candidates and world leaders.

More information and updates:

Hillary-Clinton_poster_July-2016.jpg (604 kB)
Hillary Clinton Personality Profile (research poster)