Home — Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics

Established in 1999, the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics (USPP) is a collaborative faculty–student research program in the psychology of politics at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota, directed by Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, who specializes in the psychological assessment of presidential candidates and world leaders.

USPP founding members Jennie Scott, Aví Bahadoor, Aubrey Immelman (director), and Jason Bartos. USPP contributors Scott, Bahadoor, and Bartos, along with Kelly Kalla and Dale Fredrickson (not pictured) presented their research on the political personalities of Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Pat Buchanan, and George W. Bush at the 2000 Minnesota Undergraduate Psychology Conference at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in April 2000.

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Purpose

The Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics is operated solely for research and educational purposes. The Unit does not advocate support for or defeat of any candidate for any political office. Political analysis published by the director or research associates of the Unit is the personal opinion of those individuals, based on empirical analysis of personality in politics and the influence of personality traits on high-level leadership.


USPP collaborators present studies of 2016 U.S. presidential candidates at St. John’s University on April 21, 2016.

Mission

The mission of the Unit is to conduct psychological assessments of candidates for public office and to disseminate the findings to professionals, the media, and the voting public.

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St. John’s University

Related links

USPP on ResearchGate » https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Aubrey_Immelman

USPP on Digital Commons » https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs

Former USPP website (1999-2008) » http://uspp.csbsju.edu

USPP research reports and analysis (2008-2016) » Immelman.us

USPP on Twitter » @PolPsyProfiling


Studies available for download

Index of psychological studies of U.S. presidents and presidential candidates, foreign leaders, and prominent terrorist figures conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics » http://personality-politics.org/2017-20-media-tipsheet/


Psychology Faculty Publications



U.S. Capitol Riot — Culpability, Response, and Risk Assessment — Jan. 8, 2021

Capitol attack leads Democrats to demand that Trump leave office (Peter Baker & Maggie Haberman, New York Times, Jan. 8, 2021) — [Speaker of the House] Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called on [Vice President] Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. But after the vice president refused to take their telephone calls, Ms. Pelosi told reporters that she would pursue impeachment if he did not act. “While it’s only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America,” Ms. Pelosi said, calling Mr. Trump’s actions on Wednesday a “seditious act.” “This president should not hold office one day longer,” said Mr. Schumer. …

Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Jan. 7, 2021 for President Trump to be stripped of his powers through the 25th Amendment or to be impeached again. (Photo credit: Jason Andrew / The New York Times)

Mob behavior and riots were foreseeable

The unintended consequences of President Donald Trump’s January 6 speech at the “Save America” rally and the subsequent “Stop the Steal” march could have been foreseen. Emotionally arousing his followers and then urging the crowd to march on the Capitol without providing structure or direction created a volatile situation, based on social-scientific knowledge regarding collective behavior — most notably emergent-norm theory. According to social scientists Ralph Turner and Lewis Killian (1957), crowds begin as collectivities composed of people with mixed interests and motives. In the case of less stable crowds — such as a large collective of demonstrators or protesters — norms may be vague and ambiguous, as when one person decides to break the glass windows of a storefront and observers join in and start looting; new, increasingly polarized, norms rapidly emerge and many people are caught up in those escalating norms even though their actions may be at odds with their typical social behavior.

Impeachment would be shortsighted and counterproductive

If there is a legitimate national security interest in restraining or incapacitating President Trump, impeachment may well be one of the worst interventions to diminish the perceived threat. If indeed the president is psychologically so unstable as to pose an imminent threat to public safety and social order, making him feel cornered and under siege would magnify, not mitigate, the potential threat.

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Update: January 12, 2021

Information has emerged that the attack on the Capitol was planned prior to the events of January 6, suggesting that collective behavior — specifically crowd psychology as conceptualized by emergent-norm theory, was not the primary driver of the mob behavior following the president’s rally:

FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence (Devlin Barrett & Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post, Jan. 12, 2021) — A situational information report approved for release the day before the U.S. Capitol riot painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans. … “As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington, D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.” …

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Update: January 13, 2021

Trump impeached for inciting insurrection

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the article of impeachment, Jan. 13, 2021. (Photo credit: Anna Moneymaker / The New York Times)


Diana Symons, Associate Director for Learning and Research at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, instructs USPP summer 2019 research assistants Cassidy Smith, Suntina Spehar, Austen Luetmer, and Annie Griebie in database research methods for a study of contenders for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, June 4, 2019.


Announcement — September 7, 2020

Anne Marie Griebie

College of St. Benedict senior premedical psychology major Anne Marie Griebie has been reappointed Director of Undergraduate Research at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics for the 2020-21 academic year.

Her duties include training students in Personality Psychology courses in data collection procedures and coordinating undergraduate group research projects on the personality profiles and leadership styles of U.S. presidents and world leaders.

Annie worked as a full-time research fellow in the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics during the summers of 2019 and 2020.

In summer 2020 Griebie co-authored a paper on Donald Trump, which was presented at the annual scientific meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, and papers on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.


USPP releases new research report — September 1, 2020

The Political Personality of 2020 Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, September 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (26 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/131/


Annie Griebie explains the conceptual framework, methodology, and results of the assessment of Sen. Kamala Harris’s personality and leadership style. (9:53)


USPP releases new research report — August 17, 2020

The Political Personality of 2020 Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, August 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (22 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/130/


Annie Griebie explains the conceptual framework, methodology, and results of the assessment of Vice President Joe Biden’s personality and leadership style. (9:42)


Personality profile and leadership style analysis of President Donald Trump presented at ISPP — July 16, 2020


Aubrey Immelman presents his paper, with Anne Marie Griebie, on “The Personality Profile and Leadership Style of U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Office” at the 43rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, July 16, 2020. The meeting, originally scheduled for Berlin, Germany, was conducted in virtual format due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.


Annie Griebie explains the scoring system used in the assessment of President Donald Trump’s personality as revealed in office.

The Personality Profile and Leadership Style of U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Office. Paper presented at the 43rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Berlin, Germany, July 14-16, 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (71 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/129/


Annie Griebie explains the conceptual framework, methodology, and results of her assessment of President Donald Trump’s personality as revealed in office. (9:39)


USPP completes study of Democratic presidential contenders — July 2019

Data collection has been completed for a study of viable 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, similar to the study of Republican contenders conducted during the 2016 election cycle.

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USPP associate Atarah Pinder presents her poster “The Political Personality of 2016 Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz” at Scholarship and Creativity Day, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, April 23, 2015.

Pages for the seven Democratic contenders studied may be viewed by clicking on the hyperlinked candidate names below.

  1. Joe Biden
  2. Pete Buttigieg
  3. Kamala Harris
  4. Amy Klobuchar
  5. Beto O’Rourke
  6. Bernie Sanders
  7. Elizabeth Warren

Paige Steinberg, Madison Sharp, Skya Jandt, Christian Giminez, and Sarah Lommel present their poster, “The Personality Profile of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden,” at Scholarship Day, College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN, April 25, 2019.


Psychological profiles of world leaders presented at ISPP — July 5, 2018

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Aubrey Immelman presents his paper on “The political personality of 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump” at the 41st Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Antonio, Texas, July 4-7, 2018.

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Ganna Diedkova presents the results of her research, with Christ’l De Landtsheer, on “The value of electability in a hybrid regime: Comparing personality profiles of Russian president Vladimir Putin and his opponent Alexei Navalny” at the 41st Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Antonio, Texas, July 4-7, 2018.

More » Psychological profiles of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong-un presented at International Society of Political Psychology

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USPP releases new research report — June 11, 2018

The Leadership Style of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un
Working paper by Aubrey Immelman, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, Collegeville and St. Joseph, Minn., June 10, 2018. Abstract and full text available for download at Digital Commons: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/120/

Members of the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics research team on TV Asahi in Japan to provide analysis for the Singapore summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's Chairman Kim Jong-un on June 12, 2018. From left to right: Aubrey Immelman, Jim Hasselbrink, Anna Faerber, Joe Trenzeluk, Katelyn Hendrickson (screen shot courtesy TV Asahi).

Members of the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics research team on TV Asahi in Japan to provide analysis for the Singapore summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un on June 12, 2018. From left to right: Aubrey Immelman, Jim Hasselbrink, Anna Faerber, Joe Trenzeluk, Katelyn Hendrickson (screen shot courtesy TV Asahi).


Featured presentation

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On February 27-28, 2019, U.S. president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will have a second summit meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam.

PowerPoint: Kim Jong Un Psychological Profile

Personality-Dynamics

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Featured profiles

Compare the psychological profiles of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump

Putin-poster_revised Trump poster (July 2015)

The Political Personality of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, January 2017. Abstract and link for full-text (36 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/104/

The Political Personality of 2016 Republican Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, October 2016. (Paper presented at the 41st Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Antonio, TX, July 4-7, 2018.) Abstract and link for full-text (31 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/103/

The Leadership Style of U.S. President Donald J. Trump. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, January 2017. Abstract and link for full-text (14 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/107/


Work at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics is dedicated to the memory of Theodore Millon, Ph.D., D.Sc.

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Dr. Theodore Millon receives the Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Application of Psychology at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Boston, Mass.

Books and Other Media

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Featured Paper

Aubrey Immelman and Theodore Millon, October 17, 2002.

Immelman, A., & Millon, T. (2003, June). A research agenda for political personality and leadership studies: An evolutionary proposal. Unpublished manuscript, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, Collegeville and St. Joseph, MN. Retrieved from Digital Commons website: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/124/