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Conference Proceeding

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American Politics | Defense and Security Studies | International Relations | Leadership Studies | Other Political Science | Other Psychology | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Personality and Social Contexts


This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality and leadership style of U.S. president Joe Biden, 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 subsidiary Ambitious/confident features.

The prominence of the Outgoing pattern, in conjunction with a distinctive Accommodating pattern in his 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; they tend to be conflict-averse and risk-avoidant. In terms of Margaret Hermann’s leadership trait analysis framework, Biden is classified as a leader who respects constraints, is open to information, and is motivated primarily by a relationship focus — prompting a collegial, accommodative leadership style with a focus on reconciling differences and consensus building.

Based on his personality profile and associated leadership traits, the general tenor of the Biden presidency will likely be conciliatory, which could render the president vulnerable to manipulation by pressure groups and act as an impediment in negotiations or conflicts with foreign adversaries.


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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Biden Personality and Leadership Profile (ISPP 2021).pptx (2701 kB)
PowerPoint presentation: Joe Biden’s Personality Profile and Leadership Style

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Photo: Annie Griebie presents Biden study (ISPP 2021)

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Poster: Joe Biden’s Personality Profile and Leadership Style