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This working paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of former U.S. vice president Joe Biden, Democratic nominee in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.
Psychodiagnostically relevant data about Biden were 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 DSM-III-R, DSM-IV, and 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. Biden’s primary personality pattern was found to be Outgoing/gregarious, complemented by a secondary Accommodating/cooperative pattern and a subsidiary Ambitious/confident pattern.
The prominence of the Outgoing pattern, in conjunction with a distinctive Accommodating pattern in Biden's overall personality configuration, is indicative of the conciliatory extravert subtype. This personality composite provides the personological substrate for a strong affiliation motive. These individuals are driven to seek approval; they want others to like them and view them as a friend or ally. To achieve that motivational goal, they often compliment, praise, or flatter others, presenting an image of goodwill. When disagreements occur, they attempt to smooth things over, sometimes at the cost of conceding.
Leaders with Biden’s personality profile are likely to exhibit an interpersonal leadership style, characterized by flexibility, compromise, and an emphasis on teamwork. The general tenor of a Biden presidency likely will be conciliatory, which could render a prospective President Biden vulnerable to manipulation by pressure groups and handicap him in negotiations or conflicts with foreign adversaries.
Copyright © 2020 by Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics / Aubrey Immelman
Griebie, A., & Immelman, A. (2020, August). The political personality of 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden (Working Paper No. 1.0). Collegeville and St. Joseph, MN: St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics. Digital Commons. http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/130/
The Personality Profile of 2020 Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden
Biden Personality and Leadership Profile (2020).pptx (2831 kB)
PowerPoint presentation: Joe Biden Personality Profile and Leadership Style
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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 » http://personality-politics.org/joe-biden
Updated report (July 2021)
The Personality Profile and Leadership Style of U.S. President Joe Biden » https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/132/
Earlier report (December 2019)
The Political Personality of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden » http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/122/
Video summary » https://youtu.be/f3vk0q9KS9M (9:42)
The Political Personality of 2020 Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris » http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/131/