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Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics

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The Political Personality of Arizona Senator John McCain

The Political Personality of Arizona Senator John McCain by Aubrey Immelman, Melisa Illies, Joe Kuzma, & Deven Carlson. Research paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict, January 1999. [Available upon request to academics, political psychology specialists, and professional journalists; 25 pages]


This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the political personality of Arizona senator John McCain, contender for the Republican Party nomination in the U.S. presidential election of 2000, from the conceptual perspective of Theodore Millon. Information concerning John McCain was collected from published biographical and autobiographical accounts and political reports in the print media, and synthesized into a personality profile using the second edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria, which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM-IV.

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. Senator McCain’s primary personality patterns were found to be Dauntless/venturesome and Outgoing/gregarious.

John McCain’s major personality strengths on the campaign trail and in a leadership role are the important personality-based political skills of independence, persuasiveness, and courage, coupled with a socially responsive, outgoing tendency that will enable him to connect with critical constituencies in mobilizing support and implementing his policies.

McCain’s major personality-based limitation as a candidate is a predisposition to impulsiveness, some manifestations of which are his infamous lack of emotional restraint and his tendency to make unguarded, imprudent remarks.

Page maintained by Aubrey Immelman, USPP director and Suzanne Wetzel, USPP contributor

Last modified: 04/16/2000