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Conference Proceeding

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


This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Willard Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate in the 2008 U.S. presidential election and Republican presidential nominee in 2012.

The study was conducted in 2007–2008 and 2012, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon. Information concerning Romney was 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 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. Romney’s primary personality pattern was found to be Conscientious/dutiful, complemented by secondary Dominant/asserting, Ambitious/confident, and Accommodating/cooperative features and a minor Retiring/reserved tendency.

In the absence of other primary personality patterns that might serve to modify or offset high conscientiousness, Romney is best described as a dutiful conformist. Leaders with this personality profile are characteristically prudent, proper, dignified, dependable, and more principled than most personality types. They are highly organized, with a strong work ethic and careful attention to detail, which accounts in part for Romney’s resounding success in organizational and corporate management and financial restructuring.

Dutiful and diligent, conscientious leaders excel in crafting public policy. On the downside, conscientious leaders often lack the retail political skills required to consummate their policy objectives. In short, they are more technocratic than visionary. Furthermore, in American politics, conscientious leaders lacking in extraversion face serious challenges in attaining high-level public office, because of their difficulty in connecting emotionally with voters and the media.

The major implication of the study is that it offers an empirically based personological framework for identifying Romney’s major personal limitations as a candidate and anticipating his likely leadership style as president.


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:

Romney poster (2013).jpg (640 kB)
Mitt Romney Personality Profile (research poster)

Previous Versions

Aug 2 2016