A Comparison of the Personalities of Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Rodham Clinton

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



American Politics | Psychology


This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment, and comparison, of the personalities of U.S. first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the conceptual perspective of Theodore Millon. Information pertaining to Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton was collected from biographical material and print media, and synthesized into personality profiles using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 28 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 Millon Index of Personality Styles manual. The paper examines the political implications of the two women’s personalities with reference to the public role of first lady.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s primary personality patterns were found to be Accommodating/agreeable and Conscientious/dutiful. Accommodating individuals are caring, compromising, cooperative, kind, thoughtful, and able to achieve peaceable solutions; they are gentle. Conscientious individuals are proper, conventional, respectful of tradition and authority, organized, and reliable; they are dedicated. These two patterns underlie many actions in Eleanor Roosevelt’s public and private life. It appears that the role of first lady drove much of her behavior; many of her actions clearly reflect her flexibility in transcending personal limitations to meet the role-related demands of her position.

Hillary Clinton’s primary personality patterns were found to be Dominant/controlling and Ambitious/confident. Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they are tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and act as though entitled.