Donald Trump's unusual way of speaking and acting for a politician is key to why so many supporters love him while numerous detractors loathe him. Now there's finally some data to back up the notion that President Trump is as unconventional a leader as he seems.
A new survey of 875 scholars in elections places him on the extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to public personalities exhibited by leaders worldwide.
The cohort of experts, who lean slightly to the left, it should be noted, created a public perception profile of Trump and 103 other candidates who have recently competed in elections around the world, including 21 other populists.
Rather than conducting an actual psychological evaluation, the candidates were scored on their personality reputation for eight traits. Trump scored the lowest among all in terms of agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability. He also scored highest in terms of the "dark" traits of narcissism and Machiavellianism while coming in near the top for psychopathy and extraversion. In fact, about the only area in which Trump is average is when it comes to openness.
"Our results illustrate Trump's off‐the‐charts personality and campaigning style and suggest that even when compared with other abrasive, narcissistic, and confrontational political figures, he stands out as an outlier among the outliers," reads a report on the survey results published in the journal Presidential Studies Quarterly.
Of course, it bares repeating that the results actually measure public perception of Trump's outward personality. Numerous accounts describe the President as engaging and warm in personal interactions, even if he might tweet something negative about the exchange later, as a number of journalists have reported.
In a review of the report, cognitive neuroscientist and author Christian Jarrett notes that the results place Trump on a spectrum of global political personalities but do not "provide causal evidence that Trump's personality was the reason for his electoral success, nor for his subsequent behavior in office."
Perhaps surprisingly, the researchers find that his extreme public persona may help Trump score policy wins during his administration as low levels of agreeableness have been correlated with a higher ability to enact policy in the past.
But they conclude that any such successes will likely come at a cost:
"Although perhaps successful in setting conservative policies that could define the future of the country for many years, Trump's presidency will continue to be punctuated by scandals, reckless behavior, high staff turnover, volatile communication, and a dangerous tolerance for unethical behavior."