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.

USPP_SJU USPP_CSB

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.

SJU_air-view

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

USPP director Aubrey Immelman with 2016 summer research fellows Marcus Langley, Rylee Pool, and Anna Faerber.

USPP director Aubrey Immelman with 2016 summer research fellows Marcus Langley, Rylee Pool, and Anna Faerber.

Social sciences librarian Diana Symons instructs USPP research assistants Meghan Keaveny (front left), Jacob Wankel, and Jim Hasselbrink in database research methods for a follow-up study of Kim Jong-un's personal psychology as a basis for conducting an updated North Korea threat assessment, Aug. 4, 2017.

Social sciences librarian Diana Symons instructs USPP research assistants Meghan Keaveny (front left), Jacob Wankel, and Jim Hasselbrink in database research methods for a follow-up study of Kim Jong-un’s personal psychology as a basis for conducting an updated North Korea threat assessment, Aug. 4, 2017.


USPP launches study of Democratic presidential contenders — March 2019

Data collection has begun at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics for a study of 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, similar to the study of Republican contenders conducted in the spring of 2015.

2015-04-23_Pinder_Ted-Cruz

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.

Selecting presidential contenders for profiling

Considering the finite resources and the labor-intensive nature of research at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, the large field of credible announced and prospective Democratic candidates poses practical difficulties: (1) how to select the four to six subjects most likely to advance deep into the primaries and (2) how to ensure the eventual nominee is included in the initial subject pool.

Based on a rational-intuitive evaluation of viability in terms of polling data and informal observation of personality-based electability/political impact criteria, our preliminary pool of target subjects is the following:

  1. Joe Biden
  2. Bernie Sanders
  3. Kamala Harris
  4. Beto O’Rourke
  5. Amy Klobuchar

We already have data on Joe Biden (2008) and Bernie Sanders (2016) from previous presidential campaigns, so Biden and Sanders are essentially default selections, considering both are among the top-5 frontrunners in current polling.

Amy Klobuchar, although at the bottom of the top 5 prospective candidates in the polls, happens to be our local senator (Minnesota), so we are better acquainted with her than with other contenders at the outset.


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

ISPP-2018_Presentation-1
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.

ISPP-2018_Diedkova-3
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

ISPP-2018_Kim-Jong-Un_poster


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).


USPP releases new research report — April 8, 2018

The Personality Profile 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., April 1, 2018. Abstract and full text available for download at Digital Commons: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/119/

Kim-Jong-un_pie-graph

USPP presents latest research findings — April 27, 2018

The Personality Profile of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un
Research poster presented by Katlin Rice, Austen Luetmer, Suntina Spehar, Hillary Rethlake, Lucas Vetsch, Amanda Olson, and Mariah Ogden-Kellington, 18th Annual Celebrating Scholarship & Creativity Day, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, St. Joseph and Collegeville, Minn., April 26, 2018. (Faculty advisor: Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D.)

Kim Jong Un poster (2018)


Announcement — June 26, 2018

Katelyn Hendrickson, Director of Undergraduate Research at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics for the 2018-19 academic year.

College of St. Benedict senior psychology major Katelyn Hendrickson has been appointed Director of Undergraduate Research at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics for the 2018-19 academic year.

Her duties will include training students in undergraduate Personality Psychology courses in data collection procedures and coordinating group research projects on the personalities of U.S. president Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and other political figures.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, Katelyn was a teaching assistant for Dr. Ben Faber‘s Applied Behavioral Statistics course. She is currently working full-time as a summer 2018 research fellow at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics. In fall 2018 Katelyn will intern at the CentraCare Health/St. Cloud Hospital Behavioral Health Clinic, supervised by Dr. Scott Palmer.

Previous USPP research directors


Featured presentation

DPRK-USA_Hanoi-Summit-billboard

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


Featured profiles

On July 16, 2018, U.S. president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin will have a summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

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/


Study currently in progress

The leadership style of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un » http://personality-politics.org/the-personality-profile-of-north-korean-supreme-leader-kim-jong-un


Kim Jong-un’s Extreme Makeover (Robin Stein, Ainara Tiefenthäler, and Natalie Reneau, New York Times, April 28, 2018) — How did North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, go from being an international pariah to a smiling diplomat in a matter of a few months? (03:02)

Latest update: March 9, 2019

U.S. Response to North Korea’s Rebuilding Activity at Sohae Satellite Launching Station

Update: March 14, 2019

North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launch Facility: No new activity since March 8 (Jack Liu, Peter Makowsky, and Jenny Town, 38 North, March 13, 2019) — Recent commercial satellite imagery of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station (Tongchang-ri) shows no changes to the launch pad or engine test stand between March 8 and March 13. … Full report

Update: March 16, 2019

The U.S. and North Korea are back to talking tough (Uri Friedman, The Atlantic, March 16, 2019) — The attack dogs have been let loose. That much was clear from the stark message North Korea delivered this week after the collapse of Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam last month: Kim is considering abandoning nuclear negotiations with the United States and resuming the nuclear and missile tests that brought the two countries to the brink of war early on in the Trump administration. … The unmuzzling of the attack dogs on each side is a reminder that Trump and Kim are each contending with a hard-line faction at home that views the diplomacy they’re engaged in as a hopeless and dangerous endeavor. As [North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui] noted this week, Kim decided to press ahead with diplomacy in Vietnam despite the fact that military leaders are petitioning him not to give up his nuclear program. … Full report

Update: March 22, 2019

CNN-Politics_The-Point

March 22, 2018

FOREIGN POLICY BY TWEET

President Donald Trump’s early afternoon tweet sent the international community scrambling.

Trump tweeted the administration would withdraw additional sanctions against North Korea … even though those additional sanctions had just been announced by his own administration.

The White House declined to give details on the sudden policy shift, but said Trump was pulling back newly issued sanctions because he “likes” North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, according to CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Kylie Atwood.

It was not immediately clear which sanctions Trump was referring to in his tweet. But just 24 hours earlier, the Treasury Department announced sanctions targeting two Chinese shipping companies that have allegedly helped North Korea skirt sanctions imposed by the United Nations.


Visiting scholar: Jenny Town — January 31, 2019

Negotiating with North Korea: The Challenges and Opportunities of Summit Diplomacy

Jenny Town is a research analyst at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C., and managing editor and producer of 38 North, a web-journal providing analysis on events in and around the DPRK. She is the former assistant director of the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where she managed programs on North Korea, nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, and energy security in Northeast Asia. She is an expert reviewer for Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index, where she previously worked on the Human Rights in North Korea project.

Prior to working in Korean affairs, she was the communications director for Peace X Peace; the director of the Washington (DC) office/special projects manager for government relations at the College Board; and a project manager at Clarity Coverdale Fury Advertising, Inc. She holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies and International Relations from Westmar University and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is a senior fellow of the Melton Foundation and sits on the board of directors for Korean Focus.


Previous 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/2017-19-media-tipsheet/


Psychology Faculty Publications



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

Millon_Gold-Medal-Award_APA-2008

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

Millon_Disorders-of-Personality_cover   Millon_Toward-a-New-Personology_cover     Millon_Masters-of-the-Mind_cover   The Millon Inventories cover