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Defense and Security Studies | Eastern European Studies | International Relations | Leadership Studies | Other Political Science | Other Psychology | Peace and Conflict Studies | Personality and Social Contexts | Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies


This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.

Psychodiagnostically relevant data regarding President Putin were extracted from open-source intelligence 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 on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Putin’s primary personality patterns were found to be Dominant/controlling (a measure of aggression or hostility), Ambitious/self-serving (a measure of narcissism), and Conscientious/dutiful, with secondary Retiring/reserved (introverted) and Dauntless/adventurous (risk-taking) tendencies and lesser Distrusting/suspicious features. The blend of primary patterns in Putin’s profile constitutes a composite personality type aptly described as an expansionist hostile enforcer.

Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they are tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. This personality pattern comprises the “hostile” component of Putin’s personality composite.

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. This personality pattern delineates the “expansionist” component of Putin’s personality composite.

Conscientious individuals are dutiful and diligent, with a strong work ethic and careful attention to detail; they are adept at crafting public policy but often lack the retail political skills required to consummate their policy objectives and are more technocratic than visionary. This personality pattern fashions the “enforcer” component of Putin’s personality composite.

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 interpersonal vitality.

Dauntless individuals are adventurous, individualistic, daring personalities resistant to deterrence and inclined to take calculated risks.

Putin’s particular blend of personality patterns suggests a foreign policy orientation best described as that of a deliberative high-dominance introvert.

Putin’s major personality-based strengths in a political role are his commanding demeanor and confident assertiveness. His major personality-based shortcomings are his uncompromising intransigence, lack of empathy and congeniality, and cognitive inflexibility.


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, PhD, associate professor of psychology, who specializes in the psychological assessment of presidential candidates and world leaders.

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Related papers

Immelman, A., & Goff, A. (2023, July 9–11). The post-expansionist personality profile of Russian president Vladimir Putin [Paper presentation]. International Society of Political Psychology 46th Annual Scientific Meeting, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Vomacka, E. J., & Immelman, A. (2023, July 9–11). The personality profile and leadership style of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy [Paper presentation]. International Society of Political Psychology 46th Annual Scientific Meeting, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

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The Personality Profile of Russian President Vladimir Putin (2014 poster)

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The Post-Expansionist Profile of Russian President Vladimir Putin (2022 poster)