Canadian researchers publish study of U.S. candidates” personalities ahead of vote


Researchers from Brock University and Lakehead University have published a study analyzing six personality traits of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the eve of the U.S. presidential election.

Angela Book, Tony Volk and Beth Visser approached 10 experts who analyzed the candidates using the HEXACO model, which ranks a person”s honesty-humility, emotionality, extraversion (referring to how outgoing an individual is), agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience.

Researchers say the study was fuelled by an interest in an election campaign featuring two candidates who struggle with large swathes of voters perceiving them as unlikable.

“We were struck by two things,” said Volk, an associate professor in the department of child and youth studies with Brock University. “How unpopular both candidates were and even from the start, how personal the election was in terms of personalities and temperaments.”

Ten personality psychologists were approached and asked to rate the candidates based on their public personalities, including speeches and public appearances.

Both candidates ranked low in the honesty-humility analysis, with Trump being declared “exceptionally low” compared to Clinton”s “low.”

Trump recorded another “exceptionally low” score on altruism and a “very low” on emotionality. Clinton scored “low” in both of those categories as well.

Researchers concluded that”s where the similarities between the two candidates ended, with Clinton achieving a “normal” ranking on extraversion and agreeableness, followed by a “high” rating on both conscientiousness and openness to experience.

Trump, meanwhile, recorded an “exceptionally low” ranking on agreeableness, a “high” ranking on extraversion, a “low” ranking on conscientiousness and a low ranking on openness to experience.

“Hillary has some of the traits of being a schemer, or a manipulator. Cynically you could say a standard politician,” said Volk. “Donald Trump has the traits that are reminiscent of people who would be narcissistic psychopaths.”

The study goes on to say that Clinton”s Machiavellian personality was consistent with the public”s perception of her as a career politician, and she”s seen by some as dishonest, lacking humility and cold.

Volk admits he was surprised about Clinton”s extraversion ranking, which he says is common in presidential candidates, but which he says doesn”t always come across in her appearances.

However, the study notes the surprise of researchers that Trump has managed to get this far in the election race with his personality results pointing to narcissism and psychopathy.

“His personality ratings were more in line with that of people scoring high on psychopathy and narcissism,” they wrote. “These very anti-social traits make it curious that people support Trump for the American presidency.”

They say it”s possible that his extraversion allows him to overcome or deflect any perceived flaws.

Volk added that he was shocked about how low Trump scored in the honesty-humility and agreeableness categories.

He says Trump scored in the bottom one per cent of the population in both of those categories.

“You want exceptionalities in your president, but you don”t want your president to be exceptional in that regard,” he said.

In the end, researchers conclude that Clinton is a better candidate for those wanting a steadier hand steering the presidency while Trump may appear to have more suitable personality traits for those who want a bold leader to make dramatic changes.