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Asian Studies | Defense and Security Studies | International Relations | Leadership Studies | Other Political Science | Other Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts


This working paper presents a personality-based analysis of the likely leadership style of Chairman Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in negotiations with U.S. president Donald Trump, inferred from the results of indirect personality assessments conducted 2013–2018 from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.

Kim’s primary personality patterns were found to be Outgoing/gregarious and Dominant/controlling, supplemented by secondary Accommodating/cooperative, Ambitious/confident, and Dauntless/adventurous features.

Outgoing individuals are dramatic attention‑getters who thrive on being the center of social events, go out of their way to be popular with others, and are confident in their social skills; they may have an impulsive tendency and be prone to boredom. Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they can be tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. Accommodating individuals are cordial, cooperative, and amicable; they are polite, respectful, and agreeable, willing to adapt their preferences to reconcile differences, and to concede or compromise when necessary to achieve peaceable solutions. Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and may act as though entitled. Dauntless individuals tend to flout tradition, conventional standards, and cultural mores, dislike following routine, and may act impulsively and recklessly; they are resistant to coercion and may exhibit a strong need for autonomy and self-determination.

It may be inferred on the basis of his primary Outgoing personality pattern, infused with secondary Accommodating qualities, that in the absence of strong situational constraints Kim will be inclined to congenial–cooperative behavior in negotiations; a generalized expectancy for leaders with this particular psychological predisposition is to behave in a manner that is gracious, jovial, socially gregarious, agreeable, accommodating, and obliging in relating to others, with an underlying attitude of benevolence and neighborliness and a pre­ference for avoiding conflict and seeking harmony with others.

Framed in terms of heuristic leadership models in political psychology, Kim appears to be temperamentally active-positive, with an active-independent orientation to foreign affairs and high-dominance extraversion as his preferred operating style in the international system.


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.

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Related reports

The Personality Profile of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. Poster presented at the 41st Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Antonio, TX, July 4-7, 2018.

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ISPP-2018_Kim-Jong-Un_poster.pptx (1719 kB)
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Kim Jong Un Psychological Profile - USPP.pptx (3050 kB)
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Senior thesis PowerPoint presentation (Jacob Wankel, SJU, April 2018)