Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



American Politics | Defense and Security Studies | Emergency and Disaster Management | Leadership Studies | Military and Veterans Studies | Other Political Science | Other Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts


This paper presents the results of indirect assessments of the personalities of Arizona senator John McCain and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, contenders for the Republican Party nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.

Information concerning Sen. McCain and Mayor Giuliani 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 profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC manual. McCain’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dauntless/dissenting, with secondary features of the Outgoing/gregarious and Dominant/controlling patterns.

Giuliani’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant/aggressive, with secondary features of the Conscientious/dutiful and Ambitious/confident patterns.

The combination of Dauntless and Outgoing patterns in McCain’s profile suggests a risk-taking adventurer personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype are characteristically bold, fearless, sensation seeking, and driven by a need to prove their mettle.

The combination of Dominant and Conscientious patterns in Giuliani’s profile suggests an aggressive enforcer personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype are tough, uncompromising, and believe they have a moral duty to punish and control those who deviate from socially sanctioned norms.

McCain’s major personality strengths in a leadership role are the important personality-based political skills of independence, persuasiveness, and courage, coupled with a socially responsive, outgoing tendency that can be instrumental in connecting with critical constituencies for mobilizing support and implementing policy initiatives. His major personality-based limitation is a predisposition to impulsiveness, one manifestation of which is a deficit of emotional restraint.

Giuliani’s major personality strength in a leadership role is a forceful, commanding personality style that permits him to take charge in times of crisis and inspire public confidence. His major personality-based limitation is a tendency to control and punish, which may foster divisiveness and animosity.

The major implication of the study is that it offers an empirically based personological framework for anticipating the candidates’ respective leadership styles as chief executive, thus providing a basis for inferring the character and tenor of a prospective McCain or Giuliani presidency.


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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Poster_McCain.jpg (446 kB)
John McCain Personality Profile (research poster)

Giuliani poster.jpg (604 kB)
Rudy Giuliani Personality Profile (research poster)