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Conference Proceeding

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American Politics | International Relations | Leadership Studies | Other Political Science | Other Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts


This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Sen. John Kerry, Democratic Party nominee in the 2004 U.S. presidential election, from the conceptual perspective of Theodore Millon.

Psychodiagnostically relevant information regarding Sen. Kerry was extracted from biographical sources and media reports and synthesized into a personality profile 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 and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Sen. Kerry’s primary personality pattern was found to be Ambitious/confident, with secondary features of the Dominant/asserting and Dauntless/adventurous patterns.

The amalgam of Ambitious and Dominant patterns in Sen. Kerry’s profile suggests the presence of an adaptive, nonpathological variant of Millon’s elitist narcissist syndrome. According to Millon, people with this personality composite feel privileged and empowered by virtue of their special childhood status, cultivate special status and advantages by association, are upwardly mobile, seek the good life, and tend to lay claim to greater accomplishment in life than is borne out by their actual achievements.

The major implication of the study is that it offers an empirically based personological framework for evaluating conflicting claims about John Kerry’s integrity and candor, thus providing a basis for inferring his character as a presidential candidate.


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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