Trump vs Clinton

Donald Trump (25218642186)

The US election is a job interview like no other - with weeks, months, indeed years of public appearances that can be scrutinised for clues about how the in-coming President might behave.

Trump was originally a rank outsider with no public service experience to prove his credentials, and his policies were thin. So was it his personality that resonated with the electorate? We would dearly love the President-elect to complete Credo, our new personality questionnaire, but we suspect he has other priorities. If he did complete it though, what might it say about him, and what might that teach us about the next leader of the free world?

The Credo personality questionnaire has highly relevant scales covering sociability, team orientation and enthusiasm. There seems little doubt that Trump would report as a strong extravert. His direct, unrestrained, expressive style is a hallmark of his character, and one that seemed to play out well from the podium. Clinton's poised, more precise articulation may have conveyed the desired sense of statesmanship, but this did not seem to garner the same excitement.

Trump's behaviour on the campaign trail suggests a less-than methodical character, and one who is relatively unconcerned about rules. Although he drew on the importance of heritage, he made a significant play on the need for change. Consistency seemed to be less important for him. Such traits make it (psychologically) easier to change one's position later. We might therefore expect a few U-turns from Trump that, to him at least, are no big deal.

"The Credo personality questionnaire has highly relevant scales..."

Ian Richardson, Commercial Director

How about dimensions such as empathy, conceptual thinking and focus? We would anticipate some mid-scale scores here for Trump - essentially a tough-minded, pragmatic conservatism mixed in with a good dollop of self-referenced radicalism. There is probably a 'learn by doing' dynamic to him. An unusual combination perhaps, but certainly a good recipe for a salesperson.

Agreeableness is not necessarily a stand-out characteristic of either candidate. Relevant Credo scales focus upon trusting others, being accommodating and having limited need for recognition. Clinton certainly showed a willingness to listen. Trump's public persona, however, profiles at the other end of these dimensions; more sceptical, highly assertive and self-promotional. On balance, he is unlikely to be the most agreeable character one might come across. But in times of uncertainty, people are often drawn to what they perceive to be a strong leader who knows their own mind.

All of the above is pure speculation of course. Drawing conclusions about personality traits based upon publicly available material is fraught with potential inaccuracies. We should also be mindful of context. When we watch politicians, we perhaps tend to over-emphasise the importance of their character (in determining their behaviour) and under-emphasise the importance of external, situational factors. As the reality of government begins to bite, it may well lead to a different set of behaviours than those we have seen to date.

Of course, we will happily allow Clinton or Trump to complete Credo without charge. And because you are just as special, you too can have a free trial. To set this up, call Rachel Carrington on 01625 508100 or email her at

New Year's Honours Come see us at the DOP in 2017
Democratisation of Psychometrics What does the future hold?