The Personality Profile of 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders
April 19, 2016
A psychological analysis of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders — a contender for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election — by Catherine Lundstrom, Hanae Nakamoto, Jacob Wankel, Christian Grande, Joe Trenzeluk, Atarah Pinder, and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Sanders’s primary personality patterns are Dominant/controlling and Contentious/resolute, with secondary Ambitious/confident features. In summary, Sanders’s personality composite can be characterized as a deliberative nonconformist. (Note: This is a pilot study with a lower confidence level than comparable studies of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz.)
Preliminary analysis of Bernie Sanders’s psychological profile — based on the finding of substantial social dominance (MIDC scale 1A = 13), augmented by considerable contentiousness (MIDC scale 5B = 8) and bolstered by a healthy dose of self-confidence, or adaptive narcissism (MIDC scale 2 = 6) — suggests that Sanders will be tenacious in his quest for the Democratic nomination for president.
The big takeaway from the profile is the inference that Sanders will resist calls to drop out of the race and rally his supporters behind front-runner Hillary Clinton, even after it becomes clear that he has no path to winning the required number of delegates for the nomination. In short, it seems likely that Sanders, with his resolute, uncompromising, oppositional tendency will hound Clinton all the way to the Democratic National Convention with dogged determination.
May 2016 Update
Sanders: ‘The convention will be a contested contest’ (Rebecca Savransky, The Hill, May 1, 2016) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Sunday said there will be a “contested contest.” In a news conference from Washington, D.C., on Sunday, the Vermont senator urged superdelegates from states where he has won the majority of the vote to reconsider their support. … “We intend to fight for every vote in front of us and for every delegate remaining,” he said. … Full report
July 2016 Update
Bernie Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton (MJ Lee, Dan Merica, and Jeff Zeleny, CNN, July 12, 2016) — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders formally declared an end to their political rivalry Tuesday, joining forces to take on a shared enemy: Donald Trump. … The long-anticipated unity event, coming less than two weeks ahead of the Democratic National Convention, effectively puts to rest Democratic fears of a political nightmare scenario: that Sanders might sit on his hands in the general election, or worse, run as a third-party candidate on the left. … Sanders’ endorsement had been elusive for Clinton long after she clinched the nomination. For weeks, Sanders refused to concede, continuing to hold rallies and advocate for his agenda, rattling Democrats eager to begin the general election. … Full report
Personal Electability Index (political impact) score
Bernie Sanders scores relatively low on the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria-based Personal Electability Index, which has accurately predicted the outcome of every presidential election since 1996.
Following are the PEI calculations for Bernie Sanders:
Bernie Sanders: PEI = 18
Scale: 1A = 13; 2 = 6; 3 = 3; 6 = 3; 8 = 4
[Extraversion (scale 3) = 3] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 6] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 13] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 4] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (4 – 4) = 0] = 22 – 4 = 18
Following are the PEI calculations for Sanders’s rivals:
John Kasich: PEI = 14
Scale: 1A = 7; 2 = 4; 3 = 3; 6 = 2; 8 = 0
[Extraversion (scale 3) = 3] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 4] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 7] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (2 – 2) = 0] = 14 – 0 = 14
Ted Cruz: PEI = 25
Scale: 1A = 13; 2 = 8; 3 = 4; 6 = 2; 8 = 0
[Extraversion (scale 3) = 4] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 8] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 13] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (2 – 2) = 0] = 25 – 0 = 25
Hillary Clinton: PEI = 29 (dysfunctionality adjusted)
[Extraversion (scale 3) = 1] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 15] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 15] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (6 – 4) = 2] = 31 – 2 = 29
Donald Trump: PEI = 45 (dysfunctionality adjusted)
Scale: 1A = 19; 2 = 24; 3 =19; 6 = 2; 8 = 0
[Extraversion (scale 3) = 15] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 15] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 15] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (2 – 2) = 0] = 45 – 0 = 45
Catherine Lundstrom (left) and Christian Grande (right) presented “The Political Personality of 2016 Presidential Contender Bernie Sanders” (by Catherine Lundstrom, Hanae Nakamoto, Jacob Wankel, Christian Grande, Joe Trenzeluk, and Atarah Pinder) at Scholarship and Creativity Day, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, April 21, 2016.
Students in the Department of Psychology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University presented research conducted during the 2015-16 academic year at Scholarship & Creativity Day on Thursday, April 21, 2016.
February 19, 2019 Update
Bernie Sanders announces 2020 presidential run (Sydney Ember, New York Times, Feb. 19, 2019) — Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent and 2016 Democratic primary runner-up whose populist agenda has helped push the party to the left, embarked on Tuesday on a second run for president, in a bid that will test whether he retains his anti-establishment appeal or loses ground to newer faces who have adopted many of his ideas. …
I’m running for president. I am asking you to join me today as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least 1 million people from across the country. Say you’re in: https://t.co/KOTx0WZqRf pic.twitter.com/T1TLH0rm26
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 19, 2019
April 25, 2019 Update
A psychological analysis of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders — a contender for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election — by Andrew Saunders, Thomas Lenard, Erik Balder, Isaias Guzman, Aaron Montpetit, and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Sanders’s primary personality patterns are Dominant/asserting and Dauntless/adventurous, complemented by secondary Ambitious/confident and Contentious/resolute features. In summary, Sanders may be characterized as a deliberative nonconformist.
Presidential Electability Index range: 16-23
Updates » The Personality Profile of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-23 (19.5 ±3.5)
March 9, 2020 update: Research paper
The Political Personality of 2020 Democratic Presidential Contender Bernie Sanders. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, March 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (24 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/126/
Bernie Sanders’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant/asserting, complemented by secondary Dauntless/adventurous and Ambitious/confident patterns and infused with a Contentious/resolute tendency.
Based on his overall personality configuration, Sanders may be characterized as a deliberative nonconformist: tough, strong-willed, and outspoken; fearless, daring, and attracted to challenge; self-confident, persuasive, and competitive; and resolute, with a strong oppositional streak.
As president, leaders with Sanders’s personality profile can be expected be deliberative but low on interpersonality (more aloof than interactive), temperamentally active–negative, and more skilled in mobilizing supporters than in consummating policy objectives.
Presidential Electability Index range: 16-23
Related reports on this site
The Personality Profile of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (April 25, 2019)
Projecting the Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election: The Personal Electability Index (Feb. 29, 2016)