Barack Obama: A Psychological Profile
Barber groups presidents based on the similarity of their personalities and character traits. This he determines by looking at how much energy they invest in the work of the presidency. For example, Lyndon Johnson was a human dynamo; Calvin Coolidge slept eleven hours every night and took naps during the day. As Barber explains these are people with relatively high-esteem who have enjoyed success in their political careers before arriving in the White House. Those in this group have in the end proven themselves to be disasters of varying degrees.
Harding and Ronald Reagan. These are all presidents Americans have loved when they have been in office, and they get by, but at the end of the day, they cannot boast great accomplishments arising out of their presidencies. Washington was not an innovator; rather he sought to create stability, and he had to be persuaded to stay for a second term, when, in truth, he would have preferred to retire to Mt.
In fact, he is a stronger version of this category than all whom Barber collected during his analysis, and more so than George W. Bush, whom I found fell into this group. He is a workaholic. See, e. Trump can force a smile for the camera, but he never laughs, particularly at himself. His Twitter account reveals a man constantly complaining or whining about most everything.
Personality Profile of Barack Obama | USPP
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. Join HuffPost Plus. Arthur Delaney. But no claim is made that these social psychological factors provide in themselves a complete explanation. Obviously, key political variables are also involved Norpoth, , and these are intertwined with the social psychological variables to be evaluated in this paper. The Trump movement is not singular within the United States the Know Nothing movement in the s, the Wallace movement in the s, and the more recent Tea Party Movement.
Moreover, other democracies have seen similar movements e. In virtually all these cases, the tinder especially involved male nativists and populists who were less educated than the general population. But this core was joined by other types of voters as well. Five highly interrelated characteristics stand out that are central to a social psychological analysis — authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, outgroup prejudice, the absence of intergroup contact and relative deprivation.
Several traits characterize the syndrome: deference to authority, aggression toward outgroups, a rigidly hierarchical view of the world, and resistance to new experience. There is debate as to whether to consider authoritarianism a personality construct or a political ideology in itself.
However, there is no necessary conflict between these two perspectives Pettigrew, And later this orientation typically leads to some form of a right-wing political ideology. These scales eliminate the political content of earlier measures. Authoritarianism has been successfully measured in different ways. And note that they overlap in their attention to basic values. It features an individual's preference for the societal hierarchy of groups and domination over lower-status groups.
It represents a predisposition toward anti-egalitarianism within and between groups. Individuals who score high in SDO are typically dominant, driven, tough-minded, disagreeable, and relatively uncaring seekers of power. Though found among left-wingers e. And the party began to learn how to appeal to this segment of the American electorate in various ways. But it remained for Trump to break the unwritten rules of American politics and appeal directly and openly to authoritarians and those who score high on SDO.
Not surprisingly, recent work reveals that Trump supporters tend to be especially high scorers on both scales. During the presidential primaries in February , Feldman in press also found a significant positive relationship between authoritarianism and favorable evaluations of Trump among Republicans.
Indeed, none of the evaluations of the other primary candidates revealed such a connection. This consistency across these various studies is noteworthy because they employed different measures of the key predictor variables.
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The last two studies also employed somewhat different SDO items. Thus, the American data are not unique. George H. Bush in ran a campaign ad of an African-American murderer that his opponent had released from jail — an ad for which his campaign manager later apologized. The presidential campaign witnessed recurrent Republican slips that betrayed traditional racist thinking Pettigrew, ; Staples, Trump is less subtle.
And once again a European study is congruent with this American finding. Billiet and De Witte found that prejudice against immigrants was the single most important predictor of support for the far-right Vlamms Blok Party in Flemish Belgium. It appears that Trump, too, has eroded norms that proscribed intolerant speech and behavior. In addition, pre-election publicity that minorities were planning to vote in large numbers for Clinton undoubtedly stirred Republicans to turn out too. For instance, Rothwell and Diego-Rosell , p.
And this lack of intergroup contact result emerges while controlling for dozens of other variables. Its extreme absence for most Trump fans is an important factor that has been virtually ignored in the post-election analyses. We return later for further analysis of the Brexit vote. Trump loyalists were assumed to have lost their jobs to Mexico and China and to be understandably angry. Little mention was made of the major reason for massive job losses — the accelerating pace of automation.
Mass media writers, reading each other and non-randomly interviewing a few unemployed workers, latched on to this too-simple theory as the primary explanation for the Trump victory. Undoubtedly, this media caricature fits some followers, especially in the swing states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Rothwell and Diego-Rosell analyzed in detail the individual and geographic data of , American adults who had answered Gallup survey phone calls during the long election period.
Many of their results challenge the widespread view of Trump supporters. Trump followers were less likely than others to be looking for work, unemployed or part-time employed. And those voters living in districts with more manufacturing were actually less favorable to Trump. Nor were his followers largely living and working in postal areas where employment in manufacturing had declined since To be sure, social mobility has been declining in the United States.
But these findings do not mean that social class and economics played no role whatsoever in this tight election. Instead of absolute deprivation, social psychologists stress the importance of relative deprivation. What voters think is true is more important in elections than the actual truth. Rapidly rising costs of housing and prescription drugs have aggravated their financial concerns. Their savings may not allow the type of ideal retirements they had long envisioned. And hopes for their children advancing beyond their status and going to college are being dashed by rising tuitions.
Building on the research of Chetty and Hendren , Rothwell and Diego-Rosell found that Trump actually did better in some low mobility areas e. Working-class families had previously depended on low-tuition state institutions of higher learning for educational and employment mobility.
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But largely Republican state legislatures throughout the country have sharply reduced funding to these schools, forcing rising tuitions. Trump exploited this sense of relative deprivation brilliantly. He articulated issues snugly within the authoritarian worldview of his admirers. His words and claims appalled many Americans, but he knew his target audience well.
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And his cabinet heads suggest that Trump plans to return to that long-ago scene as much as possible. All five of these tightly interconnected phenomena — authoritarianism, social dominance, prejudice, lack of intergroup contact and relative deprivation — make people vulnerable to an intense sense of threat. Sometimes the threats are real Hitler with massive Weimar inflation , but often they are imagined Trump with patently false claims of a declining economy, massive voter fraud, enormously increased crime, and unvetted immigration.
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With a background of genuine terrorist threats, Mideast conflict, and a recent great recession, even imagined threats seem plausible — especially to citizens who are already easily threatened and who have witnessed rapid change in their localities. Consider again the U. Brexit vote. Urban areas, such as London, with large, established immigrant populations voted strongly to remain in the European Union EU ; while areas with relatively few immigrants voted heavily to leave the EU.
But when a longitudinal analysis is applied, the key variable emerges: the speed of change in the immigrant population. London and other major English cities had had long experience with immigrants, and had increased their diversity relatively gradually. Time had reduced the sense of threat and enhanced positive intergroup contact. But for small towns and rural districts with a sudden and rapid entry of immigrants, perceived threat prevailed and optimal contact was as yet minimal. A quite similar process occurred in small Midwestern towns with rapid increases in Latino immigration.
This interpretation is supported by the macro-findings of Rothwell and Diego-Rosell discussed above. But an array of factors — many of them reflecting five major social psychological phenomena that form the tinder and the spark - can help to account for this extraordinary political event.
These social psychological factors are not unique to the United States. Authoritarianism and social dominance attitudes have been routinely found to correlate significantly with far-right voting in nations throughout Europe. These voters share with Trump supporters similar views of women, minorities, immigrants, and free-market economics. American research suggests that the same can be said about the Trump movement.
The implications of this analysis for scholars who study these political phenomena in democracies are three-fold.