A study conducted by Oxford University psychologist Dr. Kevin Dutton published in the September issue of Scientific American Mind graded both major party presidential candidates and various historical, political figures on eight predominate traits of psychopaths, giving each individual and amalgamate psychopathy score.
Entitled, “Would You Vote for a Psychopath?”, Dr. Dutton assessed the psychopathology of each individual using a psychometric test called the Psychopathic Personality Inventory – Revised (PPI-R), which measures both positive and negative personality traits, including social influence, fearlessness, egocentricity, externalization of blame and coldheartedness.
The scores were determined by expert biographers who answered 56 personality trait questions from PPI-R. Results show that Donald Trump ranked the highest among his contemporaries with a score of 171, only scoring lower than leaders of the past: Saddam Hussein (189), King Henry VIII of England (178) and former Ugandan President Idi Amin (176).
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton scored a respectable number of 152, ranking just above Emperor Nero and just below Winston Churchill and Napoleon Bonaparte.
“Both great and terrible leaders score higher than the general population for psychopathic traits, but it is the mix of those traits that determines success,” wrote Dr. Dutton. “For example, someone who scores highly for being influential, fearless and cold hearted could be a decisive leader who can make dispassionate decisions. If those traits are accompanied by a high score on blaming others, they might be a genocidal demagogue.”
Specifically, Trump scored highest in the categories of social influence, Machiavellian egocentricity and coldheartedness. Clinton also ranked high for influence and egocentricity, but scored lower than Trump in fearlessness and “carefree nonplanfulness”, which relates to impulse control.
According to Dutton, the most likely combination of personality traits for a successful political leader are fearlessness and a lack of selfish impulsivity. Trump possesses both of these characteristics, a possibly dangerous mix for someone given a lot of power.
As far as the overall PPI-R scores, Dutton cautions that possessing one or two of the traits does not make one a psychopath and being a psychopath does not only refer to violent individuals who have no respect for human life.
“Instead, what distinguishes the cold-blooded murderer from a psychopathic president is a question of context and degree,” says Dutton.
According to Psychology Today, a true psychopath lacks of empathy and conscience as a result of brain development and genetic effects, resulting in generally manipulative and sometimes criminal behavior.
[The Telegraph] [news.com.au] [Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty/MSNBC]