Joe Biden

The Personality Profile of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

May 24, 2019

A preliminary psychological analysis of former U.S. vice president Joe Biden by Sarah Lommel, Madison Sharp, Christian Gimenez, Paige Steinberg, Skya Jandt, and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Vice President Biden’s primary personality patterns are Outgoing/congenial and Accommodating/cooperative, complemented by secondary Ambitious/confident and Dominant/asserting features. In summary, Biden may be characterized as a conciliatory extravert.

Presidential Electability Index range: 16-29

The Personality Profile of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden


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Abstract

The poster presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of former U.S. vice president Joe Biden — a contender for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election — from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon. Information concerning Biden 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 DSM–III–R, DSM–IV, and DSM–5.

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. Biden’s primary personality patterns were found to be Outgoing/congenial and Accommodating/cooperative, complemented by secondary Ambitious/confident and Dominant/asserting features.

In essence, Biden may be characterized as a conciliatory extravert. Following personologist Theodore Millon (1996, p. 374), this particular personality composite may also be labeled appeasing extravert and described as follows:

The conciliatory extravert subtype combines outgoing and accommodating (agreeable) features. They have strong affiliation motives and are driven to seek approval. They want others to like them and view them as a friend or ally. To achieve this goal, they often compliment, praise, flatter, and commend others, presenting an image of goodwill. When disagreements occur, they attempt to smooth things over, even when they must sacrifice ground, compromise their own desires, or concede important points. They are disinclined to retaliate against those who cannot be placated. (Adapted from Millon & Davis, 2000, pp. 242–243)

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.


December 31, 2019 update: Research paper

The Political Personality of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, December 2019. Abstract and link for full-text (21 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/122/

Abstract

Joe Biden’s primary personality pattern was found to be Outgoing/gregarious, complemented by secondary Ambitious/confident and Accommodating/cooperative patterns and a subsidiary Dominant/asserting tendency. In essence, Biden may be characterized as a conciliatory extravert. The conciliatory extravert subtype combines outgoing and accommodating (agreeable) features. These individuals have strong affiliation motives and are driven to seek approval. They want others to like them and view them as a friend or ally. To achieve that goal, they often compliment, praise, or flatter others, presenting an image of goodwill. When disagreements occur, they attempt to smooth things over, sometimes at the cost of conceding. Leaders with Biden’s personality profile are likely to exhibit an interpersonal leadership style, characterized by flexibility, compromise, and an emphasis on teamwork.

Presidential Electability Index range: 22-33 (revised 12-31-2019)


March 5, 2020 update: Related analysis

Biden “Back from the Dead” — Presidential Electability Index
Predicted Super Tuesday Election Results

The 2020 U.S. presidential election-outcome forecast issued by the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics on July 8, 2019, anticipated the surprising Super Tuesday Democratic primary results, with a surging Joe Biden defying polls and political pundits to seize the lead from an ascendant Bernie Sanders in the battle for the Democratic nomination for president.

The Presidential Electability Index (PEI), which has accurately predicted — before Super Tuesday — the outcome of every presidential election since 1996, was developed to forecast general election outcomes; however, the PEI heuristic model (which employs publicly perceived candidate personality traits as the predictor variable) proved to be exceptionally robust in projecting Biden’s unexpected Super Tuesday surge.

As conceptualized by the Personal Electability Index (PEI) forecasting model, Democratic contenders studied in the 2020 presidential election cycle and still in the race rank as follows in terms of predicted political impact as a general election candidate:

1. Joe Biden
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 22-33 (27.5 ±5.5)

2. Bernie Sanders
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-23 (19.5 ±3.5)

3. Elizabeth Warren
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 6-8 (7 ±1)

Executive summary

The Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics’ PEI model ranks Biden as more competitive than Sanders in a hypothetical general election matchup against Donald Trump.

Evidently — as suggested by the Super Tuesday Democratic primary results — Biden’s personal characteristics also had a stronger impact on Democratic primary voters than did Sanders’.

Topical research reports

The Political Personality of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, December 2019. Abstract and link for full-text (21 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/122/

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 (in preparation — check back soon).

More »


Related interest: Formal announcement of candidacy

Joe Biden announces 2020 run for president, after months of hesitation (Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, New York Times, April 25, 2019) — Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced Thursday [annotated transcript and video link] that he would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge President Trump in 2020, casting the election as a national emergency and asking Democrats to put the task of defeating Mr. Trump above all their other ambitions. … In doing so, Mr. Biden, 76, is making a bet of sorts that the Democratic Party’s leftward shift in recent years has been greatly overstated, and that the moral clarity of his rhetoric and his seeming strength as a general election candidate will overpower other considerations for Democratic voters who tend to prize youth, diversity and unapologetic liberalism. …


“It’s time for respected leadership on the world stage—and dignified leadership at home. It’s time for equal opportunity, equal rights, and equal justice. It’s time for an economy that rewards those who actually do the work. It’s time for a president who will stand up for all of us.” (3:29)


Notable media reports


55 Things you need to know about Joe Biden (By Zack Stanton and Jordan Muller, March 5, 2020) — What do voters need to know about the man who just pulled off one of the most improbable political comebacks ever?


Related reports

Joe Biden’s Second Act? 2020 “Ridin’ with Biden” (May 31, 2017)

A life-size cutout of the vice president was seen in June 2015 in the window of a Draft Joe Biden 2016 office in Chicago. (Photo credit: Andrew Nelles / The New York Times)

Psychological Profiles of 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Democratic Candidates (April 25, 2019)

Photo composite: The New York Times

Which Democratic Presidential Candidate Is Most ‘Electable’? (May 6, 2019)

Joe Biden (Monmouth NH net favorability: +65)
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-29 (22.5 ±6.5) / Revised Dec. 2019: 22-33 (27.5 ±5.5)

Kamala Harris (Monmouth NH net favorability: +50)
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 13-27 (20 ±7)

Bernie Sanders (Monmouth NH net favorability: +54)
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-23 (19.5 ±3.5)

Amy Klobuchar (Monmouth NH net favorability: +33)
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 13-23 (18 ±5)

Beto O’Rourke (Monmouth NH net favorability: +29)
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 11-23 (17 ±6)

Projecting the Winner of the 2020 Presidential Election: The Personal Electability Index (July 8, 2019)

Donald Trump
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 65-77 (71 ±6); dysfunctionality adjusted 45

Joe Biden
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-29 (22.5 ±6.5) / Revised Dec. 2019: 22-33 (27.5 ±5.5)

Kamala Harris
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 13-27 (20 ±7)

Bernie Sanders
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-23 (19.5 ±3.5)

Amy Klobuchar
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 13-23 (18 ±5)

Beto O’Rourke
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 11-23 (17 ±6)

Pete Buttigieg
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 10-18 (14 ±4)

Elizabeth Warren
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 6-8 (7 ±1)