Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



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


This paper presents the results of indirect assessments of the personalities of U.S. presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barack H. Obama, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon. Information concerning Roosevelt and Obama was collected from biographical sources and published reports and synthesized into personality profiles using the second edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM-IV.

The personality profiles yielded by the MIDC were analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC manual. Roosevelt’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant/controlling, with secondary features of the Ambitious/self-serving and Conscientious/dutiful patterns. Obama’s primary personality pattern was found to be Ambitious/self-serving, with secondary features of the Conscientious/respectful and Retiring/reserved patterns.

Roosevelt’s and Obama’s personalities are compared and contrasted and the influence of their personality patterns on presidential decision making discussed in the context of parallel political and economic challenges faced by these two presidents.


This paper is based on “The Influence of Personality on Presidential Decision Making: A Comparison of the Personality Profiles of Barack Obama and Franklin D. Roosevelt” by Andrew M. Obritsch, an honors thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts with distinction in psychology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, May 2011.

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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