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The Political Personality of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin

Authors:

Abstract

This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon. Psychodiagnostically relevant data regarding Putin were extracted from open-source intelligence and synthesized into a personality profile using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), 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. Putin’s primary personality patterns were found to be Dominant/controlling (a measure of aggression or hostility), Ambitious/self-serving (a measure of narcissism), and Conscientious/dutiful, with secondary Retiring/reserved (introverted) and Dauntless/adventurous (risk-taking) tendencies and lesser Distrusting/suspicious features. The blend of primary patterns in Putin’s profile constitutes a composite personality type aptly described as an expansionist hostile enforcer. Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they are tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. This personality pattern comprises the “hostile” component of Putin’s personality composite. Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and often act as though entitled. This personality pattern delineates the “expansionist” component of Putin’s personality composite. Conscientious individuals are dutiful and diligent, with a strong work ethic and careful attention to detail; they are adept at crafting public policy but often lack the retail political skills required to consummate their policy objectives and are more technocratic than visionary. This personality pattern fashions the “enforcer” component of Putin’s personality composite. Retiring (introverted) individuals tend not to develop strong ties to others, are somewhat deficient in the ability to recognize the needs or feelings of others, and may lack spontaneity and interpersonal vitality. Dauntless individuals are adventurous, individualistic, daring personalities resistant to deterrence and inclined to take calculated risks. Putin’s major personality-based strengths in a political role are his commanding demeanor and confident assertiveness. His major personality-based shortcomings are his uncompromising intransigence, lack of empathy and congeniality, and cognitive inflexibility.
Joe Trenzeluk presents his research on “The Personality
Prole of Russian President Vladimir Pun” at Saint
John’s University, Collegeville, Minn., Aug. 6, 2014.
THE POLITICAL PERSONALITY
OF RUSSIAN FEDERATION PRESIDENT
VLADIMIR PUTIN
Aubrey Immelman and Joseph V. Trenzeluk
Department of Psychology
Saint John’s University
College of Saint Benedict
St. Joseph, MN 56374
Telephone: (320) 363-5481
E-mail: aimmelman@csbsju.edu
Working Paper — Release 1.4
Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
http://personality-politics.org/
January 2017
Acknowledgment. Megan Machesky, Tim Baebenroth, Connor Piechota, Taylor Ramler, Anh Doan, Bayert
Salverda, Rebecca Gudknecht, and Anne Kampa assisted with data collection in spring 2014. Joe Trenzeluk
collected additional data in summer 2014.
Abstract
The Political Personality
of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin
Aubrey Immelman and Joseph V. Trenzeluk
Saint John’s University
College of Saint Benedict
St. Joseph, MN 56374, U.S.A.
Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
http://personality-politics.org/
This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Vladimir Putin, president of
the Russian Federation, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.
Psychodiagnostically relevant data regarding Putin were extracted from open-source intelligence and
synthesized into a personality profile using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), 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. Putin’s primary personality
patterns were found to be Dominant/controlling (a measure of aggression or hostility), Ambitious/self-
serving (a measure of narcissism), and Conscientious/dutiful, with secondary Retiring/reserved
(introverted) and Dauntless/adventurous (risk-taking) tendencies and lesser Distrusting/suspicious
features. The blend of primary patterns in Putin’s profile constitutes a composite personality type aptly
described as an expansionist hostile enforcer.
Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they are tough
and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. This personality pattern comprises the “hostile”
component of Putin’s personality composite.
Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect
others to recognize their special qualities, and often act as though entitled. This personality pattern
delineates the “expansionist” component of Putin’s personality composite.
Conscientious individuals are dutiful and diligent, with a strong work ethic and careful attention to detail;
they are adept at crafting public policy but often lack the retail political skills required to consummate
their policy objectives and are more technocratic than visionary. This personality pattern fashions the
“enforcer” component of Putin’s personality composite.
Retiring (introverted) individuals tend not to develop strong ties to others, are somewhat deficient in the
ability to recognize the needs or feelings of others, and may lack spontaneity and interpersonal vitality.
Dauntless individuals are adventurous, individualistic, daring personalities resistant to deterrence and
inclined to take calculated risks.
Putin’s major personality-based strengths in a political role are his commanding demeanor and confident
assertiveness. His major personality-based shortcomings are his uncompromising intransigence, lack of
empathy and congeniality, and cognitive inflexibility.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 1
Introduction
This working paper reports the results of a psychodiagnostic case study of Vladimir
Vladimirovich Putin, president of the Russian Federation, conducted in 2014. Putin, a former
KGB foreign intelligence officer, served as prime minister from 1999 to 2000 and 2008 to 2012,
and as president from 2000 to 2008 and again from 2012 to the present.
The study was prompted (see Appendix A) by Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in
2014 and assumed greater urgency following Russia’s military intervention in the Syrian civil
war and publicly released following alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential
election, which rendered Putin’s psychological profile germane from a national security
perspective.
Conceptually, the study is informed by Theodore Millon’s (1969, 1986a, 1986b, 1990, 1991,
1994, 1996, 2003; Millon & Davis, 2000; Millon & Everly, 1985) model of personality as
adapted (Immelman, 1993, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005; Immelman & Millon, 2003) for the study of
personality in politics.
We employ the terms personality and politics in Fred Greenstein’s (1992) narrowly
construed sense. Politics, by this definition, “refers to the politics most often studied by political
scientists — that of civil government and of the extra-governmental processes that more or less
directly impinge upon government, such as political parties” and campaigns. Personality, as
narrowly construed in political psychology, “excludes political attitudes and opinions and
applies only to nonpolitical personal differences” (p. 107).
Personality may be concisely defined as:
a complex pattern of deeply embedded psychological characteristics that are largely nonconscious
and not easily altered, expressing themselves automatically in almost every facet of functioning.
Intrinsic and pervasive, these traits emerge from a complicated matrix of biological dispositions
and experiential learnings, and ultimately comprise the individual’s distinctive pattern of
perceiving, feeling, thinking, coping, and behaving. (Millon, 1996, p. 4)
Greenstein (1992) makes a compelling case for studying personality in government and
politics: “Political institutions and processes operate through human agency. It would be
remarkable if they were not influenced by the properties that distinguish one individual from
another” (p. 124).
The methodology employed in this study involves the construction of a theoretically
grounded personality profile derived from empirical analysis of biographical source materials
(see Immelman, 2003, 2005, 2014).
A comprehensive review of Millon’s personological model and its applicability to political
personality has been provided elsewhere (e.g., Immelman, 1993, 2003, 2005). Briefly, Millon’s
model encompasses eight attribute domains: expressive behavior, interpersonal conduct,
cognitive style, mood/temperament, self-image, regulatory mechanisms, object representations,
and morphologic organization (see Table 1).
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 2
Table 1
Millon’s Eight Attribute Domains
Attribute Description
Expressive behavior The individual’s characteristic behavior; how the individual typically
appears to others; what the individual knowingly or unknowingly reveals
about him- or herself; what the individual wishes others to think or to
know about him or her.
Interpersonal conduct How the individual typically interacts with others; the attitudes that
underlie, prompt, and give shape to these actions; the methods by which
the individual engages others to meet his or her needs; how the
individual copes with social tensions and conflicts.
Cognitive style How the individual focuses and allocates attention, encodes and
processes information, organizes thoughts, makes attributions, and
communicates reactions and ideas to others.
Mood/temperament How the individual typically displays emotion; the predominant
character of an individual’s affect and the intensity and frequency with
which he or she expresses it.
Self-image The individual’s perception of self-as-object or the manner in which the
individual overtly describes him- or herself.
Regulatory mechanisms The individual’s characteristic mechanisms of self-protection, need
gratification, and conflict resolution.
Object representations The inner imprint left by the individual’s significant early experiences
with others; the structural residue of significant past experiences,
composed of memories, attitudes, and affects that underlie the
individual’s perceptions of and reactions to ongoing events and serve as
a substrate of dispositions for perceiving and reacting to life’s ongoing
events.
Morphologic organization The overall architecture that serves as a framework for the individual’s
psychic interior; the structural strength, interior congruity, and functional
efficacy of the personality system (i.e., ego strength).
Note. From Disorders of Personality: DSM–IV and Beyond (pp. 141146) by T. Millon, 1996, New York: Wiley;
Toward a New Personology: An Evolutionary Model (chapter 5) by T. Millon, 1990, New York: Wiley; and
Personality and Its Disorders: A Biosocial Learning Approach (p. 32) by T. Millon and G. S. Everly, Jr., 1985, New
York: Wiley. Copyright © 1996, © 1990, © 1985 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Adapted by permission of John Wiley
& Sons, Inc. and Theodore Millon.
Method
Materials
The materials consisted of open-source intelligence sources and the personality inventory
employed to systematize and synthesize diagnostically relevant information collected from the
literature on Vladimir Putin.
Sources of data. Diagnostic information pertaining to Putin was collected from a broad
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 3
array of media reports containing useful, diagnostically relevant psychobiographical information.
Personality inventory. The assessment instrument, the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic
Criteria (MIDC; Immelman & Steinberg, 1999; Immelman, 2015), was compiled and adapted
from Millon’s (1969, 1986b; 1990, 1996; Millon & Everly, 1985) prototypal features and
diagnostic criteria for normal personality styles and their pathological variants. Information
concerning the construction, administration, scoring, and interpretation of the MIDC is provided
in the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria manual (Immelman, 2014).1 The 12-scale (see
Table 2) instrument taps the first five “noninferential” (Millon, 1990, p. 157) attribute domains
previously listed in Table 1.
The 12 MIDC scales correspond to major personality patterns posited by Millon (1994,
1996), which are congruent with the syndromes described on Axis II of the fourth edition of the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric
Association (APA; 1994) and coordinated with the normal personality styles in which these
disorders are rooted, as described by Millon and Everly (1985), Millon (1994), Oldham and
Morris (1995), and Strack (1997). Scales 1 through 8 (comprising 10 scales and subscales) have
three gradations (a, b, c) yielding 30 personality variants, whereas Scales 9 and 0 have two
gradations (d, e) yielding four variants, for a total of 34 personality designations, or types. Table
2 displays the full taxonomy.
Diagnostic Procedure
The diagnostic procedure, termed psychodiagnostic meta-analysis, can be conceptualized as
a three-part process: first, an analysis phase (data collection) during which source materials are
reviewed and analyzed to extract and code diagnostically relevant content; second, a synthesis
phase (scoring and interpretation) during which the unifying framework provided by the MIDC
prototypal features, keyed for attribute domain and personality pattern, is employed to classify
the diagnostically relevant information extracted in phase 1; and finally, an evaluation phase
(inference) during which theoretically grounded descriptions, explanations, inferences, and
predictions are extrapolated from Millon’s theory of personality based on the personality profile
constructed in phase 2 (see Immelman, 2003, 2005, 2014 for a more detailed account of the
procedure).
1 Inventory and manual available to eligible professionals upon request.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 4
Table 2
Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria: Scales and Gradations
Scale 1A: Dominant pattern
a. Asserting
b. Controlling
c. Aggressive (Sadistic; DSM-III-R, Appendix A)
Scale 1B: Dauntless pattern
a. Adventurous
b. Dissenting
c. Aggrandizing (Antisocial; DSM-IV, 301.7)
Scale 2: Ambitious pattern
a. Confident
b. Self-serving
c. Exploitative (Narcissistic; DSM-IV, 301.81)
Scale 3: Outgoing pattern
a. Congenial
b. Gregarious
c. Impulsive (Histrionic; DSM-IV, 301.50)
Scale 4: Accommodating pattern
a. Cooperative
b. Agreeable
c. Submissive (Dependent; DSM-IV, 301.6)
Scale 5A: Aggrieved pattern
a. Unpresuming
b. Self-denying
c. Self-defeating (DSM-III-R, Appendix A)
Scale 5B: Contentious pattern
a. Resolute
b. Oppositional
c. Negativistic (Passive-aggressive; DSM-III-R, 301.84)
Scale 6: Conscientious pattern
a. Respectful
b. Dutiful
c. Compulsive (Obsessive-compulsive; DSM-IV, 301.4)
Scale 7: Reticent pattern
a. Circumspect
b. Inhibited
c. Withdrawn (Avoidant; DSM-IV, 301.82)
Scale 8: Retiring pattern
a. Reserved
b. Aloof
c. Solitary (Schizoid; DSM-IV, 301.20)
Scale 9: Distrusting pattern
d. Suspicious
e. Paranoid (DSM-IV, 301.0)
Scale 0: Erratic pattern
d. Unstable
e. Borderline (DSM-IV, 301.83)
Note. Equivalent DSM terminology and codes are specified in parentheses.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 5
Results
The analysis of the data includes a summary of descriptive statistics yielded by the MIDC
scoring procedure, the MIDC profile for Vladimir Putin, diagnostic classification of the subject,
and the clinical interpretation of significant MIDC scale elevations derived from the diagnostic
procedure.
Putin received 44 endorsements on the 170-item MIDC. Judging from endorsement-rate
deviations from the mean (see Table 3), data on Putin’s interpersonal conduct (11 endorsements)
were most readily observed, whereas data on his cognitive style (6 endorsements) were most
difficult to obtain and may be underrepresented in the data set.
Descriptive statistics for Putin’s MIDC ratings are presented in Table 3.
Table 3
MIDC Item Endorsement Rate by Attribute Domain for Vladimir Putin2
Attribute domain Items
Expressive behavior 8
Interpersonal conduct 11
Cognitive style 6
Mood/temperament 10
Self-image 9
Sum 44
Mean 8.8
Standard deviation 1.7
Putin’s MIDC scale scores are reported in Table 4. The same data are presented graphically
in the profile depicted in Figure 1.
Putin’s most elevated scale, with a score of 16, is Scale 1A (Dominant), closely followed by
Scale 2 (Ambitious) and Scale 6 (Conscientious), respectively with scores of 14 and 12. All three
of these primary elevations are in the prominent (10–23) range. Secondary elevations in the
present (5–9) range occur on Scale 7 (Retiring) and Scale 1B (Dauntless), respectively with
scores of 7 and 5. One additional MIDC scale merits note, namely, Scale 9 (Distrusting) with a
modest elevation of 8, well below the Scale 9 threshold for diagnostic significance (see footnote
2).
2 See Appendix B, Table B1, for the range of values likely to encompass the true value (March 2022 update).
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 6
Table 4
MIDC Scale Scores for Vladimir Putin3
Scale Personality pattern Raw RT%
1A Dominant: Asserting–Controlling–Aggressive (Sadistic) 16 26.7
1B Dauntless: Adventurous–Dissenting–Aggrandizing (Antisocial) 5 8.3
2 Ambitious: Confident–Self-serving–Exploitative (Narcissistic) 14 23.3
3 Outgoing: Congenial–Gregarious–Impulsive (Histrionic) 0 0.0
4 Accommodating: Cooperative–Agreeable–Submissive (Dependent) 2 3.3
5A Aggrieved: Unpresuming–Self-denying–Self-defeating (Masochistic) 0 0.0
5B Contentious: Resolute–Oppositional–Negativistic (Passive-aggressive) 3 5.0
6 Conscientious: Respectful–Dutiful–Compulsive (Obsessive-compulsive) 12 20.0
7 Reticent: Circumspect–Inhibited–Withdrawn (Avoidant) 1 1.7
8 Retiring: Reserved–Aloof–Solitary (Schizoid) 7 11.7
Subtotal for basic personality scales 60 100.0
9 Distrusting: Suspicious–Paranoid (Paranoid) 8 11.8
0 Erratic: Unstable–Borderline (Borderline) 0 0.0
Full-scale total 68 111.8
Note. For Scales 1–8, ratio-transformed (RT%) scores are the scores for each scale expressed as a percentage of the
sum of raw scores for the ten basic scales only. For Scales 9 and 0, ratio-transformed scores are scores expressed as
a percentage of the sum of raw scores for all twelve MIDC scales (therefore, full-scale RT% totals can exceed 100).
Personality patterns are enumerated with scale gradations and equivalent DSM terminology (in parentheses).
The MIDC profile yielded by Putin’s raw scores is displayed in Figure 1 on the next page.4
In terms of MIDC scale gradation (see Table 2 and Figure 1) criteria, supplemented by
clinical judgment, Putin was classified as a composite of the Dominant/controlling (aggressive),
Ambitious/self-serving (narcissistic), and Conscientious/dutiful (obsessive-compulsive) patterns
with subsidiary Retiring/reserved (introverted) and Dauntless/Adventurous (risk-taking)
tendencies and lesser Distrusting/suspicious features.5
3 See Appendix B, Table B2, for the range of values likely to encompass the true value (March 2022 update).
4 Solid horizontal lines on the profile form signify cut-off scores between adjacent scale gradations. For Scales 1–8,
scores of 5 through 9 signify the presence (gradation a) of the personality pattern in question; scores of 10 through
23 indicate a prominent (gradation b) variant; and scores of 24 to 30 indicate an exaggerated, mildly dysfunctional
(gradation c) variation of the pattern. For Scales 9 and 0, scores of 20 through 35 indicate a moderately disturbed
syndrome and scores of 36 through 45 a markedly disturbed syndrome. See Table 2 for scale names.
5 In each case the label preceding the slash signifies the categorical personality pattern, whereas the label following
the slash indicates the specific scale gradation, or personality type, on the dimensional continuum; see Table 2.
Terms in parentheses indicate equivalent descriptors from the personality psychology or psychiatric nomenclature.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 7
Figure 1. Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria: Profile for Vladimir Putin6
40 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Markedly
36 - - - - - - - - - - e e disturbed
33 - - - - - - - - - - - -
30 - - - - - - - - - - - -
27 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Mildly
disturbed 24 c c
21 - - - - - - - - - - - - Moderately
d d disturbed
18 - - - - - - - - - -
15 - -
12 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Prominent
10 b b - -
8 - -
6 - - - - - - - - - -
Present 5 a a - -
4 - -
3 - - - - - - - - - -
2 - - - - - - - - - -
1 - - - - - - - - - -
0 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8 9 10
Score: 16 5 14 0 2 0 3 12 1 7 8 0
6 See Appendix B, Figure B1, for the range of values likely to encompass the true value (March 2022 update).
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 8
Discussion
The discussion of the results examines Vladimir Putin’s MIDC scale elevations from the
perspective of Millon’s (1994, 1996; Millon & Davis, 2000) model of personality, supplemented
by the theoretically congruent portraits of Oldham and Morris (1995) and Strack (1997). The
discussion concludes with a brief synthesis of the practical political implications of Putin’s
personality profile.
Few people exhibit personality patterns in “pure” or prototypal form; more often, individual
personalities represent a blend of two or more primary orientations. With his decidedly elevated
scores on Scale 1A (Dominant), Scale 2 (Ambitious), and Scale 6 (Conscientious), Putin
emerged from the assessment as a blend of the controlling, self-serving, and dutiful types
exaggerated, though adaptive, variants of the Dominant, Ambitious, and Conscientious patterns.
The Millon Index of Personality Styles manual (Millon, 1994), employing the label Controlling,
describes Dominant personalities as people who enjoy exercising power, directing and
intimidating others, and evoking obedience and respect; they are tough, competitive, and
unsentimental, and typically make effective leaders, though on occasion they may be
intransigent, stubborn, and coercive (p. 34). Ambitious personalities labeled Asserting are
bold, competitive, self-assured individuals who easily assume leadership roles, possess strong
persuasive powers, and act decisively; they expect others to recognize their special qualities but
tend to lack reciprocity and often act as though entitled (p. 32). Conscientious personalities
labeled Conforming — are described as industrious, well organized, reliable individuals who are
prudent and restrained, respectful of tradition and authority, and rather formal and inflexible in
their interpersonal relationships (p. 33).
The interpretation of Putin’s profile must also account for subsidiary elevations on Scale 8
(Retiring), Scale 1B (Dauntless), and to a lesser extent Scale 9 (Distrusting). Retiring
personalities tend to be aloof, do not develop strong ties to other people, rarely express their
inner feelings or thoughts to others, come across as calm and untroubled, are most comfortable
working by themselves, work in a quiet and methodical manner, are not easily distracted by what
goes on around them, are somewhat deficient in the ability to recognize the needs or feelings of
others, and may be viewed as insensitive and lacking in spontaneity (p. 33). Dauntless,
adventurous personalities labeled Dissenting are rugged individualists who live by their
own internal code, act as they see fit without much concern for the effects of their actions on
others and are willing to take the consequences for doing so, may shade the truth or flout the law
and established social conventions, exhibit a strong need for autonomy and self-determination,
and tend to be skeptical about the motives of others (p. 33). Distrusting personalities — labeled
Vigilant by Oldham and Morris (1995) have a penchant for scanning people and situations
around them and are finely attuned to mixed messages, hidden motivations, evasions, and
distortions of the truth (p. 157).
As will be explained later in this report, with his particular blend of personality orientations,
Putin can aptly be characterized as an expansionist hostile enforcer with a foreign policy role
orientation that can be described as deliberative high-dominance introversion.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 9
Scale 1A: The Dominant Pattern
Vladimir Putin’s highest MIDC scale elevation, with a score of 16, occurred on Scale 1A.
The Dominant pattern, as do all personality patterns, occurs on a continuum ranging from normal
to maladaptive. At the well-adjusted pole are strong-willed, commanding, assertive
personalities.7 Slightly exaggerated Dominant features occur in forceful, intimidating, controlling
personalities.8 In its most deeply ingrained, inflexible form, the Dominant pattern displays itself
in domineering, belligerent, aggressive behavior patterns that may be consistent with a clinical
diagnosis of sadistic personality disorder.9
Normal, adaptive variants of the Dominant pattern (i.e., asserting and controlling types)
correspond to Oldham and Morris’s (1995) Aggressive style, Strack’s (1997) forceful style,
Millon’s (1994) Controlling pattern, and the managerial segment of Leary’s (1957) managerial–
autocratic continuum. Millon’s Controlling pattern is positively correlated with the five-factor
model’s Conscientiousness factor, has a more modest positive correlation with its Extraversion
factor, is negatively correlated with its Agreeableness and Neuroticism factors, and is
uncorrelated with its Openness to Experience factor (see Millon, 1994, p. 82). Thus, these
individuals though controlling and somewhat disagreeable tend to be emotionally stable
and conscientious. In combination with an elevated Conscientious (Scale 6) pattern (as in the
case of Putin), an elevated Dominant pattern points to Simonton’s (1988) deliberative
presidential style. According to Millon (1994), Controlling (i.e., Dominant) individuals
enjoy the power to direct and intimidate others, and to evoke obedience and respect from them.
They tend to be tough and unsentimental, as well as gain satisfaction in actions that dictate and
manipulate the lives of others. Although many sublimate their power-oriented tendencies in
publicly approved roles and vocations, these inclinations become evident in occasional
intransigence, stubbornness, and coercive behaviors. Despite these periodic negative expressions,
controlling [Dominant] types typically make effective leaders, being talented in supervising and
persuading others to work for the achievement of common goals. (p. 34)
Oldham and Morris (1995) supplement Millon’s description with the following portrait of the
normal (Aggressive) prototype of the Dominant pattern:
While others may aspire to leadership, Aggressive [Dominant] men and women move instinctively
to the helm. They are born to assume command as surely as is the top dog in the pack. Theirs is a
strong, forceful personality style, more inherently powerful than any of the others. They can
undertake huge responsibilities without fear of failure. They wield power with ease. They never
back away from a fight. They compete with the supreme confidence of champions. When put
to the service of the greater good, the Aggressive [Dominant] personality style can inspire a man
or woman to great leadership, especially in times of crisis. (p. 345)
Finally, Strack (1997) offers the following description of the normal (forceful) prototype of
7 Relevant to Putin.
8 Relevant to Putin.
9 It is possible that some of these more disturbed features are present in Putin; however, the results suggest that any
such traits would be primarily situation-bound and not pervasive across the entire personality matrix.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 10
the Dominant pattern, based on Millon’s theory, empirical findings from studies correlating his
Personality Adjective Check List (PACL; 1991) scales with other measures, and clinical
experience with the instrument:
Like confident [Ambitious] persons, forceful [Dominant] individuals can be identified by an
inclination to turn toward the self as the primary source of gratification. However, instead of the
confident [Ambitious] personality’s internalized sense of self-importance, forceful [Dominant]
people seem driven to prove their worthiness. They are characterized by an assertive, dominant,
and tough-minded personal style. They tend to be strong-willed, ambitious, competitive, and self-
determined. Feeling that the world is a harsh place where exploitiveness is needed to assure
success, forceful [Dominant] individuals are frequently gruff and insensitive in dealing with
others. In contrast to their preferred, outwardly powerful appearance, these individuals may feel
inwardly insecure and be afraid of letting down their guard. In work settings, these personalities
are often driven to excel. They work hard to achieve their goals, are competitive, and do well
where they can take control or work independently. In supervisory or leadership positions, these
persons usually take charge and see to it that a job gets done. (From Strack, 1997, p. 490, with
minor modifications)
Millon’s personality patterns have predictable, reliable, observable psychological indicators
(expressive behavior, interpersonal conduct, cognitive style, mood/temperament, self-image,
regulatory mechanisms, object representations, and morphologic organization). Millon’s (1996)
attribute domains accentuate the maladaptive range of the personality patterns in his taxonomy
in the case of the Dominant pattern, the aggressive pole of the asserting–controlling–
aggressive continuum. The diagnostic features of the Dominant pattern with respect to each of
Millon’s eight attribute domains are summarized below, along with “normalized” (i.e., de-
pathologized; cf. Millon & Davis, 2000, pp. 514–515) descriptions of the variants of this pattern.
Nonetheless, some of the specified traits may be less pronounced and more adaptive in the case
of individuals for whom this pattern is less prominent.
Expressive behavior. The core diagnostic feature of the expressive acts of Dominant
individuals is assertiveness; they are tough, strong-willed, outspoken, competitive, and
unsentimental. More exaggerated variants of the Dominant pattern are characteristically forceful;
they are controlling, contentious, and at times overbearing, their power-oriented tendencies being
evident in occasional intransigence, stubbornness, and coercive behaviors. When they feel
strongly about something, these individuals can be quite blunt, brusque, and impatient, with
sudden, abrupt outbursts of an unwarranted or precipitous nature. The most extreme variants of
this pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) are aggressive; they are intimidating, domineering,
argumentative, and precipitously belligerent. They derive pleasure from humiliating others and
can be quite malicious. For that reason, people often shy away from these personalities, sensing
them to be cold, callous, and insensitive to the feelings of others. All variants of this pattern tend
to view tender emotions as a sign of weakness, avoid expressions of warmth and intimacy, and
are suspicious of gentility, compassion, and kindness. Many insist on being seen as faultless;
however, they invariably are inflexible and dogmatic, rarely conceding on any issue, even in the
face of evidence negating the validity of their position. They have a low frustration threshold and
are especially sensitive to reproach or deprecation. When pushed on personal matters, they can
become furious and are likely to respond reflexively and often vindictively, especially when
feeling humiliated or belittled. Thus, they are easily provoked to attack, their first inclination
being to dominate and demean their adversaries. (Millon, 1996, pp. 483, 487)
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 11
Interpersonal conduct. The core diagnostic feature of the interpersonal conduct of
Dominant individuals is their commanding presence; they are powerful, authoritative, directive,
and persuasive. More exaggerated variants of the Dominant pattern are characteristically
intimidating; they tend to be abrasive, contentious, coercive, and combative, often dictate to
others, and are willing and able to humiliate others to evoke compliance. Their strategy of
assertion and dominance has an important instrumental purpose in interpersonal relations, as
most people are intimidated by hostility, sarcasm, criticism, and threats. Thus, these personalities
are adept at having their way by browbeating others into respect and submission. The most
extreme variants of this pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) are belligerent; they reveal
satisfaction in intimidating, coercing, and humiliating others. Individuals with all gradations of
this pattern frequently find a successful niche for themselves in roles where hostile and
belligerent behaviors are socially sanctioned or admired, thus providing an outlet for vengeful
hostility cloaked in the guise of social responsibility. (Millon, 1996, p. 484; Millon & Everly,
1985, p. 32)
Cognitive style. The core diagnostic feature of the cognitive style of Dominant individuals
is its opinionated nature; they are outspoken, emphatic, and adamant, holding strong beliefs that
they vigorously defend. More exaggerated variants of the Dominant pattern tend to be dogmatic;
they are inflexible and closed-minded, lacking objectivity and clinging obstinately to
preconceived ideas, beliefs, and values. The most extreme variants of this pattern (minimally
applicable to Putin) are narrow-mindedly bigoted; they are socially intolerant and inherently
prejudiced, especially toward envied or disparaged social groups. Some of these individuals have
a crude, callous exterior and seem coarsely unperceptive. This notwithstanding, all variants of
this pattern are finely attuned to the subtle elements of human interaction, keenly aware of the
moods and feelings of others, and skilled at using others’ foibles and sensitivities to manipulate
them for their own purposes. The more extreme variants of this pattern, in particular, are quick to
turn another’s perceived weaknesses to their own advantage often in an intentionally callous
manner by upsetting the other’s equilibrium in their quest to dominate and control. (Millon,
1996, pp. 484–485)
Mood/temperament. The core diagnostic feature of the characteristic mood and
temperament of Dominant individuals is irritability; they have an excitable temper that they may
at times find difficult to control. More exaggerated variants of the Dominant pattern tend to be
cold and unfriendly; they are disinclined to experience and express tender feelings and have a
volatile temper that readily flares into contentious argument and physical belligerence. The most
extreme variants of this pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) evince pervasive hostility and
anger; they are fractious, mean-spirited, and malicious, with callous disregard for the rights of
others. Their volcanic temper seems perpetually primed to erupt, sometimes into physical
belligerence. More than any other personality type, people with this extreme variant of the
Dominant pattern are willing to do harm and persecute others if necessary to have their way. All
variants of this pattern are prone to anger and to a greater or lesser extent deficient in the
capacity to share warm or tender feelings, to experience genuine affection and love for another,
or to empathize with the needs of others. (Millon, 1996, p. 486; Millon & Everly, 1985, p. 32)
Self-image. The core diagnostic feature of the self-image of Dominant individuals is that
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 12
they view themselves as assertive; they perceive themselves as forthright, unsentimental, and
bold. More exaggerated variants of the Dominant pattern recognize their fundamentally
competitive nature; they are strong-willed, energetic, and commanding, and may take pride in
describing themselves as tough and realistically hardheaded. More exaggerated variants of the
Dominant pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) perceive themselves as powerful; they are
combative, viewing themselves as self-reliant, unyielding, and strong hard-boiled, perhaps,
but unflinching, honest, and realistic. They seem proud to characterize themselves as
competitive, vigorous, and militantly hardheaded, which is consistent with their “dog-eat-dog”
view of the world. Though more extreme variants may enhance their sense of self by overvaluing
aspects of themselves that present a pugnacious, domineering, and power-oriented image, it is
rare for these personalities to acknowledge malicious or vindictive motives. Thus, hostile
behavior on their part is typically framed in prosocial terms, which enhances their sense of self.
(Millon, 1996, p. 485; Millon & Everly, 1985, p. 32)
Regulatory mechanisms. The core diagnostic feature of the regulatory (i.e., ego-defense)
mechanisms of highly Dominant individuals is isolation; they can detach themselves emotionally
from the impact of their aggressive acts upon others. In some situations — politics being a case
in point these personalities may have learned that there are times when it is best to restrain
and transmute their more aggressive thoughts and feelings. Thus, they may soften and redirect
their hostility, typically by employing the mechanisms of rationalization, sublimation, and
projection, all of which lend themselves in some fashion to finding plausible and socially
acceptable excuses for less than admirable impulses and actions. Thus, blunt directness may be
rationalized as signifying frankness and honesty, a lack of hypocrisy, and a willingness to face
issues head-on. In the longer term, socially sanctioned resolution (i.e., sublimation) of hostile
urges is seen in the competitive occupations to which these aggressive personalities gravitate.
Finally, these personalities may preempt the disapproval they anticipate from others by
projecting their hostility onto them, thereby justifying their aggressive actions as mere
counteraction to unjust persecution. Individuals with extreme, malignant variations of this
pattern (not applicable to Putin) may engage in group scapegoating, viewing the objects of their
violations impersonally as despised symbols of a devalued people, devoid of dignity and
deserving degradation. (Millon, 1996, pp. 485–486)
Object representations. The core diagnostic feature of the internalized object
representations of highly Dominant individuals is their pernicious nature. Characteristically,
there is a marked paucity of tender and sentimental objects, and an underdevelopment of images
that activate feelings of shame or guilt. For individuals with extreme, malignant variations of this
pattern, the inner imprint of significant early experiences that serves as a substrate of dispositions
(i.e., templates) for perceiving and reacting to current life events is composed of aggressive
feelings and memories, and images comprising harsh relationships and malicious attitudes.
Consequently, their life experience is recast to reflect the expectancy of hostility and the need to
preempt it. These dynamics undergird a “jungle philosophy” of life where the only perceived
recourse is to act in a bold, critical, assertive, and ruthless manner. Of particular relevance to
politics is the harsh, antihumanistic disposition of the more extreme variants of these
personalities (minimally applicable to Putin). Some are adept at pointing out the hypocrisy and
ineffectuality of so-called “do-gooders”; they rail against the devastating consequences of
international appeasement. Others justify their toughness and cunning by pointing to the hostile
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 13
and exploitative behavior of others; to them, the only way to survive in this world is to dominate
and control. (Millon, 1996, p. 485)
Morphologic organization. The core diagnostic feature of the morphologic organization of
highly Dominant individuals is its eruptiveness; powerful energies are so forceful that they
periodically overwhelm these personalities’ otherwise adequate modulating controls, defense
operations, and expressive channels, resulting in the harsh behavior commonly seen in these
personalities. This tendency (minimally applicable to Putin) is exacerbated by the unrestrained
expression of intense and explosive emotions stemming from early life experiences. Moreover,
these personalities dread the thought of being vulnerable, of being deceived, and of being
humiliated. Viewing people as basically ruthless, these personalities are driven to gain power
over others, to dominate them and outmaneuver or outfox them at their own game. Personal
feelings are regarded as a sign of weakness and dismissed as mere maudlin sentimentality.
(Millon, 1996, p. 486)
Scale 2: The Ambitious Pattern
Vladimir Putin’s second highest MIDC scale elevation, with a score of 14, occurred on Scale
2. The Ambitious pattern, as do all personality patterns, occurs on a continuum ranging from
normal to maladaptive. At the well-adjusted pole are confident, socially poised, assertive
personalities.10 Slightly exaggerated Ambitious features occur in personalities that are sometimes
perceived as self-promoting, overconfident, or arrogant.11 In its most deeply ingrained, inflexible
form, the Ambitious pattern manifests itself in extreme self-absorption or exploitative behavior
patterns that may be consistent with a clinical diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.12
Normal, adaptive variants of the Ambitious pattern (i.e., confident and self-serving types)
correspond to Oldham and Morris’s (1995) Self-Confident style, Strack’s (1997) confident style,
and Millon’s (1994) Asserting pattern. Millon’s Asserting pattern is positively correlated with
the five-factor model’s Extraversion and Conscientiousness factors and negatively correlated
with its Neuroticism factor (Millon, 1994, p. 82). It is associated with “social composure, or
poise, self-possession, equanimity, and stability” a constellation of adaptive traits that in
stronger doses shades into its dysfunctional variant, the narcissistic personality (Millon, 1994,
p. 32).
Millon (1994) summarizes the Asserting (i.e., Ambitious) pattern as follows:
An interpersonal boldness, stemming from a belief in themselves and their talents, characterize[s]
those high on the … Asserting [Ambitious] scale. Competitive, ambitious, and self-assured, they
naturally assume positions of leadership, act in a decisive and unwavering manner, and expect
others to recognize their special qualities and cater to them. Beyond being self-confident, those
with an [Ambitious] profile often are audacious, clever, and persuasive, having sufficient
charm to win others over to their own causes and purposes. Problematic in this regard may be their
lack of social reciprocity and their sense of entitlement — their assumption that what they wish for
10 Relevant to Putin.
11 Relevant to Putin.
12 Some of these more disturbed features may be marginally present in Putin; however, the results suggest that any
such traits would be primarily situation-bound and not pervasive across the entire personality matrix.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 14
is their due. On the other hand, their ambitions often succeed, and they typically prove to be
effective leaders. (p. 32)
Oldham and Morris (1995) offer the following portrait of the normal (Self-Confident)
prototype of the Ambitious pattern:
Self-Confident [Ambitious] individuals stand out. They’re the leaders, the shining lights, the
attention-getters in their public or private spheres. Theirs is a star quality born of self-regard, self-
respect, self-certainty all those self words that denote a faith in oneself and a commitment to
one’s self-styled purpose. Combined with the ambition that marks this style, that self-regard
can transform idle dreams into real accomplishment. … Self-Confident [Ambitious] men and
women know what they want, and they get it. Many of them have the charisma to attract plenty of
others to their goals. They are extroverted13 and intensely political. They know how to work the
crowd, how to motivate it, and how to lead it. (p. 85)
Strack (1997) provides the following description of the normal (confident) prototype of the
Ambitious pattern, based on Millon’s theory, empirical findings from studies correlating his
Personality Adjective Check List (PACL; 1991) scales with other measures, and clinical
experience with the instrument:
Aloof, calm, and confident, these personalities tend to be egocentric and self-reliant. They may
have a keen sense of their own importance, uniqueness, or entitlement. Confident [Ambitious]
individuals enjoy others’ attention and may be quite bold socially, although they are seldom
garish. They can be self-centered to a fault and may become so preoccupied with themselves that
they lack concern and empathy for others. These persons tend to believe that others share, or
should share, their sense of worth. As a result, they may expect others to submit to their wishes
and desires, and to cater to them. When feeling exposed or undermined, these individuals are
frequently disdainful, obstructive, or vindictive. In the workplace, confident [Ambitious] persons
like to take charge in an emphatic manner, often doing so in a way that instills confidence in
others. Their self-assurance, wit, and charm often win them supervisory and leadership positions.
(Adapted from Strack, 1997, pp. 489–490, with minor modifications)
Millon’s personality patterns have well-established diagnostic indicators associated with each
of the eight attribute domains of expressive behavior, interpersonal conduct, cognitive style,
mood/temperament, self-image, regulatory mechanisms, object representations, and morphologic
organization. Millon’s (1996) attribute domains accentuate the maladaptive range of the
personality patterns in his taxonomy — in the case of the Ambitious pattern, the exploitative pole
of the confident–self-serving–exploitative continuum. The major diagnostic features of the
prototypal maladaptive variant of the Ambitious pattern are summarized below, along with
“normalized” (i.e., de-pathologized; cf. Millon & Davis, 2000, pp. 273–277) descriptions of the
variants of this pattern. Nonetheless, some of the specified traits may be less pronounced and
more adaptive in the case of individuals for whom this pattern is less prominent.
Expressive behavior. The core diagnostic feature of the expressive acts of Ambitious
individuals is their confidence; they are socially poised, self-assured, and self-confident,
conveying an air of calm, untroubled self-assurance. More exaggerated variants of the Ambitious
pattern tend to act in a conceited manner, their natural self-assurance shading into supreme self-
confidence, hubris, immodesty, or presumptuousness. They are self-promoting and may display
an inflated sense of self-importance. They typically have a superior, supercilious, imperious,
13 Not the case with Putin, who is an introvert.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 15
haughty, disdainful manner. Characteristically, though usually unwittingly, they exploit others,
take them for granted, and frequently act as though entitled. The most extreme variants of this
pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) are arrogant; they are self-serving, reveal a self-
important indifference to the rights of others, and are manipulative and lacking in integrity. They
commonly flout conventional rules of shared social living, which they view as naive or
inapplicable to themselves. All variants of this pattern are to some degree self-centered and
lacking in generosity and social reciprocity. (Millon, 1996, p. 405; Millon & Everly, 1985,
pp. 32, 39)
Interpersonal conduct. The core diagnostic feature of the interpersonal conduct of
Ambitious individuals is their assertiveness; they stand their ground and are tough, competitive,
persuasive, hardnosed, and shrewd. More exaggerated variants of the Ambitious pattern are
entitled; they lack genuine empathy and expect favors without assuming reciprocal
responsibilities. The most extreme variants of this pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) are
exploitative; they shamelessly take others for granted and manipulate and use them to indulge
their desires, enhance themselves, or advance their personal agenda, yet contributing little or
nothing in return. Ironically, the nerve and boldness of all variants of this pattern, rather than
being clearly seen for what it is — impertinence, impudence, or sheer audacity — often conveys
confidence and authority and evokes admiration and compliance from others. Indeed, these
personalities are skilled at sizing up those around them and conditioning those so disposed to
adulate, glorify, and serve them. (Millon, 1996, pp. 405–406; Millon & Everly, 1985, pp. 32, 39)
Cognitive style. The core diagnostic feature of the cognitive style of Ambitious individuals
is their imaginativeness; they are inventive, innovative, and resourceful, ardently believing in
their own efficacy. More exaggerated variants of the Ambitious pattern are cognitively
expansive; they display extraordinary confidence in their own ideas and potential for success and
redeem themselves by taking liberty with facts or distorting the truth. The most extreme variants
of this pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) are cognitively unconstrained; they are
preoccupied with self-glorifying fantasies of accomplishment or fame, are little constrained by
objective reality or cautionary feedback, and deprecate competitors or detractors in their quest
for glory. All variants of this pattern to some degree harbor fantasies of success or rationalize
their failures; thus, they tend to exaggerate their achievements, transform failures into successes,
construct lengthy and intricate justifications that inflate their self-worth, and quickly deprecate
those who refuse to bend to or enhance their admirable sense of self. (Millon, 1996, p. 406;
Millon & Everly, 1985, pp. 32, 39)
Mood/temperament. The core diagnostic feature of the characteristic mood and
temperament of Ambitious individuals is their social poise; they are self-composed, serene, and
optimistic, and are typically imperturbable, unruffled, and cool and levelheaded under pressure.
More exaggerated variants of the Ambitious pattern are insouciant; they manifest a general air of
nonchalance, imperturbability, or feigned tranquility. They characteristically appear coolly
unimpressionable or buoyantly optimistic, except when their narcissistic confidence is shaken, at
which time either rage, shame, or emptiness is briefly displayed. The most extreme variants of
this pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) are exuberant; they experience a pervasive sense of
emotional well-being in their everyday life a buoyancy of spirit and an optimism of outlook
except when their sense of superiority is punctured. When emotionally deflated, their air of
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 16
nonchalance and imperturbability quickly turns to edgy irritability and annoyance. Under more
trying circumstances, sham serenity may turn to feelings of emptiness and humiliation,
sometimes with vacillating episodes of rage, shame, and dejection. All variants of this pattern to
some degree convey a self-satisfied smugness, yet are easily angered when criticized, obstructed,
or crossed. (Millon, 1996, p. 408; Millon & Everly, 1985, pp. 32, 39)
Self-image. The core diagnostic feature of the self-perception of Ambitious individuals is
their certitude; they have strong self-efficacy beliefs and considerable courage of conviction.
More exaggerated variants of the Ambitious pattern have an admirable sense of self; they view
themselves as extraordinarily meritorious and esteemed by others, and have a high degree of
self-worth, though others may see them as egotistic, inconsiderate, cocksure, and arrogant. The
most extreme variants of this pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) have a superior sense of
self. They view themselves as having unique and special qualities, deserving of great admiration
and entitled to unusual rights and privileges. Accordingly, they often act in a pompous or
grandiose manner, often in the absence of commensurate achievements. In high-level leadership
positions, some of these individuals may exhibit a messianic self-perception; those failing to pay
proper respect or bend to their will typically are treated with scorn and contempt. (Millon, 1996,
p. 406)
Regulatory mechanisms. The core diagnostic features of the unconscious regulatory (i.e.,
ego-defense) mechanisms of Ambitious individuals (minimally applicable to Putin) are
rationalization and fantasy; when their subjectively admirable self-image is challenged or their
confidence shaken, they maintain equilibrium with facile self-deceptions, devising plausible
reasons to justify their self-centered and socially inconsiderate behaviors. They rationalize their
difficulties, offering alibis to put themselves in a positive light despite evident shortcomings and
failures. When rationalization fails, they turn to fantasy to assuage their feelings of dejection,
shame, or emptiness, redeem themselves, and reassert their pride and status. (Millon, 1996,
p. 407)
Object representations. The core diagnostic feature of the internalized object
representations of Ambitious individuals (minimally applicable to Putin) is their contrived
nature; the inner imprint of significant early experiences that serves as a substrate of dispositions
(i.e., templates) for perceiving and reacting to current life events consists of illusory and
changing memories. Consequently, problematic experiences are refashioned to appear consonant
with their high sense of self-worth, and unacceptable impulses and deprecatory evaluations are
transmuted into more admirable images and percepts. (Millon, 1996, pp. 406–407)
Morphologic organization. The core diagnostic feature of the morphological organization
of Ambitious individuals (minimally applicable to Putin) is its spuriousness; the interior design
of the personality system, so to speak, is essentially counterfeit, or bogus. Owing to the
misleading nature of their early experiences — characterized by the ease with which good things
came to them these individuals may lack the inner skills necessary for regulating their
impulses, channeling their needs, and resolving conflicts. Accordingly, commonplace demands
may be viewed as annoying incursions and routine responsibilities as pedestrian or demeaning.
Excuses and justifications are easily mustered and serve to perpetuate selfish behaviors and
exploitative, duplicitous social conduct. (Millon, 1996, pp. 407–408)
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 17
Scale 6: The Conscientious Pattern
Vladimir Putin’s third highest MIDC scale elevation, with a score of 12, occurred on Scale 6.
The Conscientious pattern, as do all personality patterns, occurs on a continuum ranging from
normal to maladaptive. At the well-adjusted pole are earnest, polite, respectful personalities.14
Exaggerated Conscientious features occur in dutiful, dependable, and principled but rigid
personalities.15 In its most deeply ingrained, inflexible form, the Conscientious pattern displays
itself in a moralistic, self-righteous, uncompromising, cognitively constricted, compulsive
behavior pattern that may be consistent with a clinical diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive
personality disorder.16
Normal, adaptive variants of the Conscientious pattern (i.e., respectful and dutiful types)
correspond to Oldham and Morris’s (1995) Conscientious style, Millon’s (1994) Conforming
pattern, Strack’s (1997) respectful style, and the responsible segment of Leary’s (1957)
responsible–hypernormal interpersonal continuum. Millon’s Conforming pattern is correlated
with the five-factor model’s Conscientiousness factor, has a modest positive correlation with its
Extraversion factor, a modest negative correlation with its Neuroticism factor (signifying
emotional stability), and is uncorrelated with its Agreeableness and Openness to Experience
factors (see Millon, 1994, p. 82). Adaptive variants of the Conscientious pattern have “a well-
disciplined and organized lifestyle that enables individuals to function efficiently and
successfully in most of their endeavors,” in contrast to “the driven, tense, and rigid adherence to
external demands and to a perfectionism that typifies the disordered [compulsive] state.” They
“demonstrate an unusual degree of integrity, adhering as firmly as they can to society’s ethics
and morals” (Millon, 1996, pp. 518–519).
Conscientious-style people, according to Oldham and Morris (1995), have
strong moral principle[s] and absolute certainty, and they won’t rest until the job is done and done
right. They are loyal to their families, their causes, and their superiors. Hard work is a hallmark of
this personality style; Conscientious types achieve. … Conscientious traits … [include] hard work,
prudence, [and] conventionality. (p. 62)
Millon (1994) summarizes the Conscientious pattern (which he labels Conforming) as
follows:
[Conscientious individuals possess] traits not unlike Leary’s [1957] responsible–hypernormal
personality, with its ideal of proper, conventional, orderly, and perfectionistic behavior, as well as
bearing a similarity to Factor III of the Big-Five, termed Conscientiousness. Conformers are
notably respectful of tradition and authority, and act in a reasonable, proper, and conscientious
way. They do their best to uphold conventional rules and standards, following given regulations
closely, and tend to be judgmental of those who do not. Well-organized and reliable, prudent and
restrained, they may appear to be overly self-controlled, formal, and inflexible in their
relationships, intolerant of deviance, and unbending in their adherence to social proprieties.
Diligent about their responsibilities, they dislike having their work pile up, worry about finishing
14 Relevant to Putin.
15 Relevant to Putin.
16 Not applicable to Putin.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 18
things, and come across to others as highly dependable and industrious. (p. 33)
Strack (1997) provides the following portrait of the normal (respectful) prototype of the
Conscientious pattern, based on Millon’s theory, empirical findings from studies correlating his
Personality Adjective Check List (PACL; 1991) scales with other measures, and clinical
experience with the instrument:
Responsible, industrious, and respectful of authority, these individuals tend to be conforming and
work hard to uphold rules and regulations. They have a need for order and are typically
conventional in their interests. These individuals can be rule abiding to a fault, however, and may
be perfectionistic, inflexible, and judgmental. A formal interpersonal style and notable constriction
of affect can make some respectful [Conscientious] persons seem cold, aloof, and withholding.
Underneath their social propriety there is often a fear of disapproval and rejection, or a sense of
guilt over perceived shortcomings. Indecisiveness and an inability to take charge may be evident
in some of these persons due to a fear of being wrong. However, among co-workers and friends,
respectful [Conscientious] personalities are best known for being well organized, reliable, and
diligent. They have a strong sense of duty and loyalty, are cooperative in group efforts, show
persistence even in difficult circumstances, and work well under supervision. (From Strack, 1997,
p. 490, with minor modifications)
Being principled, scrupulous, and meticulous, conscientious individuals “tend to follow
standards from which they hesitate to deviate, attempt to act in an objective and rational manner,
and decide matters in terms of what they believe is right.” They are often religious, and
maintaining their integrity “ranks high among their goals” while “voicing moral values gives
them a deep sense of satisfaction.” The major limitations of this personality style are (a) its
“superrationality,” leading to a “devaluation of emotion [which] tends to preclude relativistic
judgments and subjective preferences”; and (b) a predilection for “seeing complex matters in
black and white, good and bad, or right or wrong terms” (Millon, 1996, p. 519).
Millon’s personality patterns have predictable, reliable, observable psychological indicators
(expressive behavior, interpersonal conduct, cognitive style, mood/temperament, self-image,
regulatory mechanisms, object representations, and morphologic organization). Millon’s (1996)
attribute domains accentuate the maladaptive range of the personality patterns in his taxonomy
in the case of the Conscientious pattern, the compulsive pole of the respectful–dutiful–
compulsive continuum. The major diagnostic features of the prototypal maladaptive variant of
the Conscientious pattern are summarized below, along with “normalized” (i.e., de-pathologized;
cf. Millon & Davis, 2000, pp. 174–176) descriptions of the more adaptive variants of this pattern.
Nonetheless, some of the specified traits may be less pronounced and more adaptive in the case
of individuals for whom this pattern is less prominent.
Expressive behavior. The core diagnostic feature of the expressive acts of Conscientious
individuals is a sense of duty; they do their best to uphold conventional rules and standards,
follow regulations closely, and are typically responsible, reliable, proper, prudent, punctual, self-
disciplined, well organized, and restrained. They are meticulous in fulfilling obligations, their
conduct is generally beyond reproach, and they typically demonstrate an uncommon degree of
integrity. More exaggerated variants of the Conscientious pattern tend to be rigid; they are
typically overcontrolled, orderly, and perfectionistic. Though highly dependable and industrious,
they have an air of austerity and serious-mindedness and may be stubborn, stingy, and
possessive. They are typically scrupulous in matters of morality and ethics, but may strike others
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 19
as prudish, moralistic, and condescending. They exhibit a certain postural tightness; their
movements may be deliberate and dignified and they display a tendency to speak precisely, with
clear diction and well-phrased sentences. Emotions are constrained by a regulated, highly
structured, and carefully organized lifestyle. Clothing is characteristically formal or proper, and
restrained in color and style. The most extreme variants of this pattern (not applicable to Putin)
are highly perfectionistic; they are characteristically pedantic, painfully fastidious or fussy, and
excessively devoted to work and productivity. (Millon, 1996, pp. 513–515)
Interpersonal conduct. The core diagnostic feature of the interpersonal conduct of
Conscientious individuals is politeness; they are courteous, proper, and dignified. They strongly
adhere to social conventions and proprieties and show a preference for polite, formal, and
“correct” personal relationships. With their strong sense of duty, they feel that they must not let
others down or engage in behaviors that might provoke their displeasure. They are loyal to their
families, their causes, and their superiors. More exaggerated variants of the Conscientious
pattern are exacting; they are scrupulous in matters of morality and ethics and unbending in their
relations with subordinates, insisting that they adhere to personally established rules and
methods. In marked contrast, they treat superiors with deference, are obsequious, and may
ingratiate themselves, striving to impress authorities with their loyalty, efficiency, and serious-
mindedness. The most extreme variants of this pattern (not applicable to Putin) are
uncompromising; they are excessively punctilious, though supercilious and deprecatory
behaviors may be cloaked behind a veil of legalities and regulations, and aggressive intent may
be justified by recourse to rules, authorities, or imperatives higher than themselves. (Millon,
1996, pp. 514–515, 516; Millon & Everly, 1985, p. 33)
Cognitive style. The core diagnostic feature of the cognitive style of Conscientious
individuals is circumspection; they are cautious, prudent, deliberate, systematic, and attentive to
detail. Wary of new or untested ideas, they are risk avoidant. More exaggerated variants of the
Conscientious pattern are unimaginative; they are methodical, structured, pedestrian, uninspired,
or routinized. Perfectionism may interfere with decision making and task completion, and they
may have difficulty dealing with new ideas. The most extreme variants of this pattern (not
applicable to Putin) are constricted; they are mechanical, inflexible, and rigid, constructing the
world in terms of rules, regulations, schedules, and hierarchies. Their thinking may be
constrained by stubborn adherence to conventional rules and personally formulated schemas, and
their equilibrium is easily upset by unfamiliar situations or new ideas, making them
excruciatingly indecisive at times. All variants of this pattern are concerned with matters of
propriety and efficiency and tend to be rigid about regulations and procedures though,
ironically, all too often getting mired in minor or irrelevant details. They judge others by
“objective” standards and time-proven rules of an orderly society and are inclined to disdain
frivolity and public displays of emotion, which they view as irresponsible or immature. Though
industrious, tidy, meticulous, practical, realistic, and diligent, their thinking may be deficient in
flexibility, creativity, and imagination, and lacking in vision. (Millon, 1996, pp. 515–516; Millon
& Everly, 1985, p. 33)
Mood/temperament. The core diagnostic feature of the characteristic mood and
temperament of Conscientious individuals is restraint; they are serious, reasonable, and rarely
display strong emotions. More exaggerated variants of the Conscientious pattern are
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 20
characteristically solemn; they are emotionally controlled, tense, or unrelaxed. The most extreme
variants of this pattern (not applicable to Putin) are grave; heavy and uptight, they are joyless,
grim, and somber, keeping a tight rein on emotions — especially warm and affectionate feelings,
though they may occasionally exhibit abrupt, explosive outbursts of anger aimed at subordinates.
Because of their dignified, serious-minded, solemn demeanor, all variants of the Conscientious
pattern may at times be viewed as grim and cheerless. This, however, is due to disdain for
frivolity rather than humorlessness per se; thus, although these individuals often come across as
reserved, even stiff, “wooden,” or “heavy,” they may exhibit a dry, self-effacing sense of humor.
Few, however, have a lively or ebullient manner; most are rigidly controlled and tight, and their
failure to release pent-up energies may predispose them to psychophysiological disorders.
(Millon, 1996, p. 518; Millon & Everly, 1985, p. 33)
Self-image. The core diagnostic feature of the self-perception of Conscientious individuals
is reliability; they view themselves as dependable, disciplined, responsible, industrious, efficient,
and trustworthy. More exaggerated variants of the Conscientious pattern accurately perceive
themselves as highly conscientious, even to a fault; they view themselves as scrupulous,
meticulous in fulfilling obligations, and loyal, despite often being viewed by others as high-
minded, overperfectionistic, and fastidious. The most extreme variants of this pattern (not
applicable to Putin) view themselves as righteous; they overvalue aspects of themselves that
exhibit virtue, moral rectitude, discipline, perfection, prudence, and loyalty, and are fearful of
error or misjudgment. They are excessively devoted to work, with a corresponding tendency to
minimize the importance of recreational or leisure activities. All variants of the Conscientious
pattern value aspects of themselves that exhibit virtue, moral rectitude, self-discipline, prudence,
and loyalty, and are wary of error or misjudgment. Given their strong sense of duty and their
view of themselves as reliable, conscientious, or righteous, these individuals are particularly
sensitive to charges of impropriety, which may be devastating to their sense of self. (Millon,
1996, p. 516)
Regulatory mechanisms. The core diagnostic feature of the unconscious regulatory (i.e.,
ego-defense) mechanisms of highly Conscientious individuals (minimally applicable to Putin) is
reaction formation; they display reasonableness when faced with circumstances that would
typically be expected to evoke irritation, anger, or dismay and may engage in public displays of
socially commendable actions that may be diametrically opposed to their deeper impulses.
(Millon, 1996, pp. 516–517)
Object representations. The core diagnostic feature of the internalized object
representations of highly Conscientious individuals (minimally applicable to Putin) is
concealment; there is a tendency for only those internalized representations that are socially
acceptable, with their corresponding inner affects, memories, and attitudes, to be permitted into
conscious awareness or to be expressed. Thus, personal difficulties and social conflicts anchored
to past experiences are defensively denied, kept from conscious awareness, and maintained under
the most stringent of controls. These individuals devalue self-exploration, claiming that it is
antithetical to efficient behavior and that introspection only intrudes on rational thinking and
self-control. Consequently, highly Conscientious persons often have limited insight into their
deeper motives and feelings. (Millon, 1996, p. 516)
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 21
Morphologic organization. The core diagnostic feature of the morphological organization
of highly Conscientious individuals (minimally applicable to Putin) is compartmentalization; to
keep contrary feelings and impulses from affecting one another, and to hold ambivalent images
and contradictory attitudes from spilling forth into conscious awareness, the organization of their
inner world tends to be compartmentalized in a tightly consolidated system that is clearly
partitioned into numerous, distinct, and segregated constellations of drive, memory, and
cognition, with few open channels to permit interplay among these components. Thus, a
deliberate and well-poised surface quality may belie an inner turmoil. To prevent upsetting the
balance they have so carefully wrought throughout their lives, highly Conscientious individuals
strive to avoid risk and to operate with complete certainty. Their toughest challenge, however, is
to control their emotions, which they do by extensive use of intrapsychic defenses. Because they
typically have a family history of exposure to demanding, perfectionistic parents, a potent force
behind their tightly structured world is their fear of disapproval. By the same token, their public
facade of conformity and propriety may mask an undercurrent of repressed urges toward self-
assertion and defiance. (Millon, 1996, pp. 517–518)
Formulation: The Dominant–Conscientious Composite Pattern
Predominantly Dominant (aggressive, or sadistic) individuals who also possess prominent
Conscientious (compulsive) features may be characterized as hostile enforcers (following
Millon, 1996, pp. 490–491; Millon & Davis, 2000, p. 517, whose characterization of the
“enforcing sadist” provides the basis for the following adaptation). Given that Vladimir Putin’s
elevations on the two scales in question are not in the dysfunctional range, he is neither sadistic
nor compulsive. Rather, he may display a more adaptive, nonpathological variant of the
syndrome. Millon (1996) does not offer a description of the adaptive variant of the sadistic–
compulsive personality composite, but a “de-pathologized” manifestation may be inferred from
his description of the maladaptive version of the syndrome:
Hostile enforcers are characterized by deep-seated hostility, permeated by a moralistic
conscience. A stickler for rules and propriety, they are unrestrained in discharging their hostile
impulses against the weak, the powerless, and the contemptible ostensibly in the public
interest. Not only do they act as though they have a monopoly on divining right and wrong; these
personalities also believe they have a right and an obligation to control and punish violators, and
that they are uniquely qualified to determine how punishment should be meted out.
Although hostile enforcers operate under the guise of socially endorsed roles to serve the
public interest, the deeper motives that spur the aggressive enforcing actions of leaders with this
personality style are of questionable legitimacy, given the extraordinary force with which they
mete out their condemnation and punishment. In the realm of public service, the trademark
characteristic of hostile enforcers is, first, to search out rule-breakers and perpetrators of
incidental infractions that fall within the purview of their socially sanctioned role, and then to
exercise their legitimate powers to the fullest extent.
The modus operandi of the hostile enforcer invariably provokes opposition and resistance,
which in turn incites and perpetuates ever-stronger countermeasures against real and perceived
enemies. Their resulting “bunker mentality” may mimic a paranoid orientation, but more likely is
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 22
simply a manifestation of hardball politics in the service of an obdurate, relentless,
uncompromising, no-holds-barred striving to preserve and consolidate personal power and
control.
In public life the fatal flaw of this personality type is that, in carrying out their duties, they
cannot restrain the emotions that drive their vindictively hostile behaviors. Ultimately,
dominating everything and everyone becomes their goal, at the expense of exercising their
responsibilities in a fair and balanced manner. The essence of this personality pattern in its most
extreme form is vividly captured in the following sketch by Millon (1996), who employs the
label enforcing sadist for the maladaptive variant (minimally applicable or irrelevant to Putin) of
the Dominant–Conscientious personality composite:
Some of these personalities swagger about as prideful enforcers of the law; the more they
dominate and discharge their venom, the more pridefully they swagger, and the more they feel
righteously empowered. The more they discharge their hostility and exercise their wills, the more
they display their dominance and feed their sadistic urges, the more they feel justified in venting
their anger. Power has gone to their heads. Many begin to dehumanize their victims, further
enlarging the sphere and intensity of their aggressive destructiveness.Beneath their ostensible
good intentions may lie a growing deceptive viciousness, a malicious inclination that eventually
produces the very destructiveness they have been authorized to control. (pp. 490–491)
Millon and Davis (2000) describe the enforcing sadist as follows:
Every society charges certain agents with the power to enforce its rules to protect the common
good. At their best, such individuals recognize the weight of their mission and balance social and
individual needs, consider extenuating circumstances, and dispassionately judge intentions and
effects before rendering a final verdict. In contrast, the enforcing sadist is society’s sadistic
superego, vested in punishment for its own sake, unable to be appeased. Military sergeants, certain
cops, university deans, and the harsh judge all feel that they have the right to control and punish
others. Cloaked within socially sanctioned roles, they mete out condemnation in the name of
justice with such extraordinary force that their deeper motives are clear. Ever seeking to make
themselves seem important, these sticklers for rules search out those guilty of some minor
trespass, make them cower before the power of their position, and then punish them with a
righteous indignation that reeks of repressed anger and personal malice. Despite their
responsibility to be fair and balanced, such individuals are unable to put limits on the emotions
that drive their vicious behaviors. Though not as troublesome, many minor bureaucrats also
possess such traits. The enforcing sadist represents a combination of the sadistic and compulsive
personalities. (p. 517)
The label enforcing sadist or even its nonpathological hostile enforcer variant should
be used with circumspection. It is not an apt characterization for leaders with moderately
elevated Dominant and Conscientious scales. In less pronounced cases, consistent with the
principle of syndromal continuity (see Immelman, 2005), the above description at best serves as
an informative caricature for contextualizing the “true believer” ideological zeal typically found
in these personality composites. Nonetheless, Putin’s Scale 1A (Dominant) and Scale 6
(Conscientious) elevations are relatively high compared with world leaders and U.S. presidential
candidates studied by the first author in the past three decades.
Finally, the prominence of Ambitious (narcissistic) features in Putin’s personality profile
undoubtedly modulates Putin’s Dominant–Conscientious personality composite. Given the
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 23
cognitive expansiveness of narcissistic-spectrum personality variants, all of which to some extent
harbor self-glorifying fantasies of fame or greatness, it is proposed that the modifier expansionist
be incorporated in the hostile enforcer label to encapsulate the full complexity of Putin’s political
personality.
Scale 8: The Retiring Pattern
Vladimir Putin’s fourth highest MIDC scale elevation, with a score of 7, occurred on Scale 8.
The Retiring pattern, as do all personality patterns, occurs on a continuum ranging from normal
to maladaptive. At the well-adjusted pole are self-contained, unsociable, reserved personalities.17
Exaggerated Retiring features occur in stolid, unobtrusive, aloof personalities.18 In its most
deeply ingrained, inflexible form, the Retiring pattern displays itself in unanimated, asocial,
solitary behavior patterns that may be consistent with a clinical diagnosis of schizoid personality
disorder.19 Due to the relatively modest elevation of Scale 8 in Putin’s personality configuration,
the extreme solitary variant of the Retiring pattern is omitted from the discussion.
Normal, adaptive variants of the Retiring pattern (i.e., reserved and aloof types),
characterized by low levels of sociability and companionability (Millon, 1994, p. 31), correspond
to Oldham and Morris’s (1995) Solitary style, Strack’s (1997) introversive style, and Millon’s
(1994) Retiring pattern. Millon’s Retiring pattern is negatively correlated with the five-factor
model’s Extraversion factor, positively correlated with its Neuroticism factor, has modest
negative correlations with its Openness to Experience and Agreeableness factors, and is
uncorrelated with its Conscientiousness factor (see Millon, 1994, p. 82).
According to Oldham and Morris (1995), these “solitary-style” individuals are self-contained
people without a need for external guidance, admiration, or emotional sustenance. They feel no
need to share their experiences and draw their greatest strength and comfort from within.
According to Oldham and Morris (1995), Solitary individuals
need no one but themselves. They are unmoved by the madding crowd, liberated from the drive to
impress and to please. Solitary people are remarkably free of the emotions and involvements that
distract so many others. What they may give up in terms of sentiment and intimacy, however, they
may gain in clarity of vision. (p. 275)
Millon (1994) summarizes the Retiring pattern as follows:
[Retiring individuals] evince few social or group interests. Their needs to give and receive
affection and to show feelings tend to be minimal. They are inclined to have few relationships and
interpersonal involvements, and do not develop strong ties to other people. They may be seen by
others as calm, placid, untroubled, easygoing, and possibly indifferent. Rarely expressing their
inner feelings or thoughts to others, they seem most comfortable when left alone. They tend to
work in a slow, quiet, and methodical manner, almost always remaining in the background in an
undemanding and unobtrusive way. Comfortable working by themselves, they are not easily
distracted or bothered by what goes on around them. Being somewhat deficient in the ability to
recognize the needs or feelings of others, they may be seen as socially awkward, if not insensitive,
as well as lacking in spontaneity and vitality. (p. 31)
17 Relevant to Putin.
18 Largely irrelevant to Putin.
19 Not applicable to Putin.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 24
Strack (1997) provides the following portrait of the normal (introversive) prototype of the
Retiring pattern, based on Millon’s theory, empirical findings from studies correlating his
Personality Adjective Check List (PACL; 1991) scales with other measures, and clinical
experience with the instrument:
Aloof, introverted, and solitary, these persons usually prefer distant or limited involvement with
others and have little interest in social activities, which they find unrewarding. Appearing to others
as complacent and untroubled, they are often judged to be easy-going, mild-mannered, quiet, and
retiring. They frequently remain in the background of social life and work quietly and
unobtrusively at a job. At school or in the workplace these people do well on their own, are
typically dependable and reliable, are undemanding, and are seldom bothered by noise or
commotion around them. They are often viewed as levelheaded and calm. However, these
individuals may appear unaware of, or insensitive to, the feelings and thoughts of others. These
characteristics are sometimes interpreted by others as signs of indifference or rejection but reveal a
sincere difficulty in being able to sense others’ moods and needs. Introversive [Retiring] persons
can be slow and methodical in demeanor, lack spontaneity and resonance, and be awkward or
timid in social or group situations. They frequently view themselves as being simple and
unsophisticated and are usually modest in appraising their own skills and abilities. At the same
time, their placid demeanor and ability to weather ups and downs without being ruffled are traits
frequently prized by friends, family members, and co-workers. (From Strack, 1997, p. 488, with
minor modifications)
Millon’s personality patterns have predictable, reliable, observable psychological indicators
(expressive behavior, interpersonal conduct, cognitive style, mood/temperament, self-image,
regulatory mechanisms, object representations, and morphologic organization). Millon’s (1996)
attribute domains accentuate the maladaptive range of the personality patterns in his taxonomy
— in the case of the Retiring pattern, the solitary pole of the reserved–aloof–solitary continuum.
The major diagnostic features of the prototypal maladaptive variant of the Retiring pattern are
summarized below, along with “normalized” (i.e., de-pathologized; cf. Millon & Davis, 2000,
pp. 313–315) descriptions of the more adaptive variants of this pattern.
Expressive behavior. The core diagnostic feature of the expressive acts of Retiring
individuals is their reserved nature; they are private, unsociable, introverted, undemonstrative,
and undiplomatic. More exaggerated variants of the Retiring pattern (minimally applicable to
Putin) are characteristically solitary; they seem indifferent, express a preference for being alone,
and are phlegmatic, stolid, colorless, or bland, and deficient in expressiveness and spontaneity.
(Millon, 1996, pp. 230–231)
Interpersonal conduct. The core diagnostic feature of the interpersonal conduct of Retiring
individuals is unobtrusiveness; they are private, self-contained, prefer solitary activities, and
often fade into the background or go unnoticed. More exaggerated variants of the Retiring
pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) are socially disengaged; they are aloof and indifferent to
others, neither desiring nor enjoying close relationships, and are socially remote and
interpersonally detached. All variants of the Retiring pattern, where possible, avoid social
activities or leadership roles. In mandatory (e.g., occupational) settings, their social
communications are expressed in a perfunctory, formal, or impersonal manner. Their primary
social motive is to remain interpersonally unattached. When pushed beyond their comfort zone in
interpersonal relations, they tend to retreat or withdraw into themselves. (Millon, 1996, p. 231;
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 25
Millon & Everly, 1985, p. 33)
Cognitive style. The core diagnostic feature of the cognitive style of Retiring individuals is
vagueness; their thoughts are often fuzzy or unclear and communication with others tends to be
digressive or unfocused. More exaggerated variants of the Retiring pattern (minimally applicable
to Putin) display considerable impoverishment; their ideas tend to be sparse, meager, or infertile
and their thought processes obscure. Their communication often loses its purpose or intention,
particularly in the social and personal spheres a tendency that does not necessarily hold true
for the intellectual domain. All variants of the Retiring pattern have a diminished capacity to
convey articulate or relevant ideas in the realm of interpersonal phenomena. They may grasp
grammatical, mathematical, or technical symbols with infallible precision yet falter in their
comprehension of nonverbal communication, including facial expressions, gestures, and voice
timbre those affect-laden metacommunicative qualities that suffuse the formal structure of
communication. A related cognitive trait is their difficulty in attending to, selecting, and
regulating perceptions of the socioemotional environment, which may at times result in
inaccurate person perception and imbue their interactions with a socially “tone-deaf” quality.
(Millon, 1996, pp. 231–232; Millon & Everly, 1985, p. 33)
Mood/temperament. The core diagnostic feature of the characteristic mood and
temperament of Retiring individuals is unexcitability; they are unemotional and dispassionate,
disinclined to express strong feelings, and seem mildly agreeable yet somewhat bland. More
exaggerated variants of the Retiring pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) are emotionally flat;
they are temperamentally impassive, gloomy, or apathetic, rarely display warm or intense
feelings, and seem unable to experience most affects pleasure, sadness, or anger in any
depth. All variants of the Retiring pattern display a deficit in the range and subtlety of
emotionally relevant words. Furthermore, they experience only mild or meager affective and
erotic needs. (Millon, 1996, pp. 232–233; Millon & Everly, 1985, p. 33)
Self-image. The core diagnostic feature of the self-perception of Retiring individuals is its
dispassionate quality; they are placid and view themselves as uninvolved and unaffected. More
exaggerated variants of the Retiring pattern (minimally applicable to Putin) are complacent;
though recognizing themselves as somewhat unfeeling and socially unresponsive or insular, they
view themselves as contented and satisfied. They are little affected by others and respond
minimally to either praise or criticism. Their limited interest in the lives of others, in the
interpersonal domain, is mirrored in the self-domain by low levels of self-awareness or
introspection. Reluctant to engage in self-descriptions, they may be vague or superficial; if
pressed they may describe themselves as ordinary, reflective, uninteresting, or introverted. The
apparent lack of candor in self-analysis displayed by most manifestations of the Retiring pattern
is not indicative of elusiveness or protective denial, but merely reflects an inherent deficit in
pondering social and emotional processes. When adequately formulated and accurately
articulated, these personalities will perceive and report themselves as being socially reserved and
emotionally distant, somewhat lacking in empathy. (Millon, 1996, p. 232; Millon & Everly,
1985, p. 33)
Regulatory mechanisms. The core diagnostic feature of the unconscious regulatory (i.e.,
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 26
ego-defense) mechanisms of highly Retiring individuals (largely irrelevant to Putin) is
intellectualization. They describe the interpersonal and affective character of their social and
emotional experiences and memories in a somewhat impersonal and mechanical manner. They
tend to be abstract and perfunctory about their emotional and social lives, and when they do
formulate a characterization, they pay primary attention to the more objective and formal aspects
of their experiences rather than to the personal and emotional significance of these events.
(Millon, 1996, p. 232)
Object representations. The core diagnostic feature of the internalized object
representations of highly Retiring individuals (largely irrelevant to Putin) is their meagerness;
the inner imprints of significant early experiences that serve as a substrate of dispositions (i.e.,
templates) for perceiving and reacting to current life events appear to be few in number and
diffusely articulated. (Millon, 1996, p. 232)
Morphologic organization. The core diagnostic feature of the morphological organization
of highly Retiring individuals (largely irrelevant to Putin) is its lack of differentiation. The
structural composition of their intrapsychic world is more diffuse and less dynamically active
than that of most personality patterns. (Millon, 1996, p. 232)
Scale 1B: The Dauntless Pattern
Vladimir Putin’s fifth highest MIDC scale elevation, with a score of 5, occurred on Scale 1B.
The Dauntless pattern, as do all personality patterns, occurs on a continuum ranging from normal
to maladaptive. At the well-adjusted pole20 are individualistic, adventurous, daring personalities.
Exaggerated Dauntless features21 occur in unconscientious, risk-taking, dissenting personalities.
In its most deeply ingrained, inflexible form,22 the Dauntless pattern displays itself in reckless,
irresponsible, self-aggrandizing behavior patterns that may be consistent with a clinical diagnosis
of antisocial personality disorder. Due to the modest elevation of Scale 1B in Putin’s overall
personality configuration, only the adaptive variant of the Dauntless pattern is addressed in the
ensuing discussion.
Normal, adaptive variants of the Dauntless pattern (i.e., adventurous and dissenting types)
correspond to Oldham and Morris’s (1995) Adventurous style, Millon’s (1994) Dissenting
pattern, and the low pole of Simonton’s (1988) interpersonal executive leadership style.
Theoretically, the normal, adaptive variant of the Dauntless pattern incorporates facets of the
five-factor model’s Extraversion factor and the low pole of its Agreeableness factor; however,
the Dissenting scale of the Millon Index of Personality Styles (Millon, 1994) is uncorrelated with
the five-factor model’s Extraversion factor, though as expected this scale is negatively
correlated with its Agreeableness factor. In addition, the Dissenting scale is moderately
correlated with the five-factor model’s Neuroticism factor, has a small negative correlation with
its Conscientiousness factor, and is uncorrelated with its Openness to Experience factor (see
Millon, 1994, p. 82). The Dauntless pattern, as conceptualized in the MIDC, is congruent with
20 Minimally relevant to Putin.
21 It is possible, but unlikely, that some of these slightly exaggerated features are present in Putin; however, any
such traits would be nonpervasive and will have been considerably attenuated since middle adulthood.
22 Not applicable to Putin.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 27
the low poles of Simonton’s (1988) deliberative and interpersonal leadership styles and
incorporates elements of his neurotic and charismatic styles.
According to Oldham and Morris (1995, pp. 227–228), the following eight traits and
behaviors are reliable clues to the presence of an Adventurous style:
1. Nonconformity. Live by their own internal code of values; not strongly influenced by the
norms of society.
2. Challenge. Routinely engage in high-risk activities.
3. Mutual independence. Not overly concerned about others; expect each individual to be
responsible for him- or herself.
4. Persuasiveness. “Silver-tongued” charmers talented in the art of social influence.
5. Wanderlust. Like to keep moving; live by their talents, skills, ingenuity, and wits.
6. Wild oats. History of childhood and adolescent mischief and hell-raising.
7. True grit. Courageous, physically bold, and tough.
8. No regrets. Live in the present; do not feel guilty about the past or anxious about the
future.
Oldham and Morris (1995) provide the following description of the Adventurous style:
Throw caution to the winds here comes the Adventurer. Who but Adventurers would have
taken those long leaps for mankind crossed the oceans, broken the sound barrier, walked the
moon? The men and women with this personality style venture where most mortals fear to tread.
They are not bound by the same terrors and worries that limit most of us. They live on the edge,
challenging boundaries and restrictions, pitting themselves for better or for worse in a thrilling
game against their own mortality. No risk, no reward, they say. Indeed, for people with the
Adventurous personality style, the risk is the reward. (p. 227)
Ultimately, adventurous types “are fundamentally out for themselves” (Oldham & Morris,
1995, p. 228); they “do not need others to fuel their self-esteem or to provide purpose to their
lives, and they don’t make sacrifices for other people, at least not easily” (p. 229). Furthermore,
they believe in themselves and do not require anyone’s approval; they have “a definite sense of
what is right or wrong for them, and if something is important to them, they’ll do it no matter
what anyone thinks” (p. 229). Despite their self-centeredness, however, adventurous people are
capable of advancing a cause incidentally in the service of their personal desires or ambition; but
fundamentally, what matters is the momentary excitement, emotional vitality, or sense of
aliveness that they experience, not love of person, country, or cause (p. 229). Technically,
Oldham and Morris’s Adventurous style appears to be a more adaptive variant of Millon’s “risk-
taking psychopath,” a composite of his aggrandizing (antisocial) and gregarious (histrionic)
personality patterns (see Millon, 1996, p. 452; Millon & Davis, 1998, p. 164; Millon & Davis,
2000, pp. 111–112). As such, one would expect the Dauntless pattern to be only minimally
present in Putin’s overall personality configuration, considering the total absence of any MIDC
indicators on Scale 3 (Outgoing).
Millon (1994), who uses the term Dissenting as a label for the normal, adaptive variant of the
aggrandizing, antisocial pattern, asserts that these individuals tend to “flout tradition,” “act in a
notably autonomous fashion,” “are not social-minded,” and “are not inclined to adhere to
conventional standards, cultural mores, and organizational regulations” (p. 32). They are
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 28
unconventional persons who seek to do things their own way and are willing to take the
consequences for doing so. They act as they see fit regardless of how others judge them. Inclined
at times to elaborate on or shade the truth, as well as ride close to the edge of the law, they are not
conscientious — that is, they do not assume customary responsibilities. … They will do what they
want or believe to be best without much concern for the effects of their actions on others. Being
skeptical about the motives of most people, and refusing to be fettered or coerced, they exhibit a
strong need for autonomy and self-determination. (p. 33)
Millon’s personality patterns have predictable, reliable, observable psychological indicators
(expressive behavior, interpersonal conduct, cognitive style, mood/temperament, self-image,
regulatory mechanisms, object representations, and morphologic organization). The diagnostic
features of the first five (i.e., relatively directly observable) attribute domains of the adaptive
variant of the Dauntless pattern are summarized below.
Expressive behavior. Dauntless personalities are typically adventurous, fearless, and
daring, attracted by challenge and undeterred by personal risk. They do things their own way and
are willing to take the consequences. (Millon, 1996, pp. 444–445, 449–450; Millon & Davis,
1998, p. 164)
Interpersonal conduct. Dauntless personalities are rugged individualists, not compromisers
or conciliators. They take clear stands on the issues that matter, backed up by the self-confidence
and personal skills and talents to prevail. (Millon, 1996, pp. 445–446, 449–450; Millon & Davis,
1998, p. 164)
Cognitive style. Dauntless personalities are original, independent-minded, and
unconventional. (Millon, 1996, pp. 446–447, 449–450; Millon & Davis, 1998, p. 164)
Mood/temperament. Dauntless personalities are tough-minded and unsentimental; they are
cool, calm, and collected under pressure. (Millon, 1996, pp. 448–449, 449–450; Millon & Davis,
1998, p. 164)
Self-image. Dauntless personalities are self-confident, with a corresponding view of
themselves as self-sufficient and autonomous. They pride themselves on their independence,
competence, strength, and their ability to prevail without social support, and they expect the
same of others. (Millon, 1996, pp. 447, 449–450; Millon & Davis, 1998, p. 164)
Scale 9: The Distrusting Pattern
Vladimir Putin obtained a modest MIDC scale elevation of 8 on Scale 9, which is below the
threshold for clinical diagnostic significance, yet merits note because of potential political
implications deriving from the unusual level of suspiciousness and hypervigilance associated
with the Distrusting pattern.
Oldham and Morris (1995) offer the following portrait of the Vigilant (i.e., Distrusting) style:
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 29
Nothing escapes the notice of [people who have a] Vigilant [Distrusting] personality style.
These individuals possess an exceptional awareness of their environment. … Their sensory
antennae, continuously scanning the people and situations around them, alert them immediately to
what is awry, out of place, dissonant, or dangerous, especially in their dealings with other people.
[Distrusting types] are immediately aware of mixed messages, the hidden motivations, the
evasions, and the subtlest distortions of the truth that elude or delude less gifted observers. (p. 157)
Inferring Vladimir Putin’s Leadership Style
The present psychological assessment offers an empirically based framework for anticipating
Vladimir Putin’s political leadership style as chief executive generally and his behavioral
predispositions in responding to arising circumstances in particular.
Renshon’s Character-Based Modalities of Political Performance
There is utility in coordinating the present findings with alternative models of personality in
politics. Stanley Renshon (1996), for example, developed a psychologically grounded theory of
political performance, proposing “three distinct aspects” (p. 226) of political leadership shaped
by character: mobilization, the ability to arouse, engage, and direct the public; orchestration, the
organizational skill and ability to craft specific policies; and consolidation, implementing one’s
policy proposals (pp. 227, 411).
Putin’s most prominent personality-based political weakness likely is an inability to arouse,
engage, and direct the public (i.e., mobilization), which is more commonly the preserve of highly
outgoing, less conscientious leaders.
As chief executive, Putin’s greatest strength (by dint of his high conscientiousness) is
orchestration. As such, he appears well equipped to bring to bear superlative organizational skill,
in conjunction with the sustained focus and attention to detail necessary to craft specific policies.
Regarding the third element of personality-driven political leadership, consolidation, the
picture is more opaque. Although the ability to implement one’s policy proposals is partially
dependent on the same qualities that favor orchestration (Putin’s strong suit), Putin to the
extent that he is constrained by checks and balances is hamstrung by a dearth of outgoing
personality traits, with attendant deficits in the requisite retail political skills necessary for
consummating policy objectives.
Barber’s Temperament-Based Model of Presidential Character
James David Barber (1972/1992), focusing more narrowly on presidential temperament,
developed a simple model that has shown some utility in predicting successful (active-positive)
and failed (active-negative) presidencies. Putin bears greater similarity to active-negative U.S.
presidents, such as Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon, who were rigid and highly driven,
compulsively investing great effort in task performance yet deriving little inherent joy from the
office of president, using power primarily as a means of self-realization.
Simonton’s Five-Factor Model of Presidential Styles
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 30
Dean Keith Simonton (1988) proposed five empirically derived presidential styles
(charismatic, interpersonal, deliberative, neurotic, and creative) that offer a promising frame of
reference for establishing links between personality and political leadership, given the fidelity
with which they mirror the currently popular five-factor model, whose correlates with Millon’s
personality patterns have been empirically established (Millon, 1994, p. 82).
Putin’s elevated Conscientious pattern (which conceptually corresponds to the “Big Five”
Conscientiousness factor), in conjunction with his highly elevated Dominant scale (which is
positively correlated with the five-factor model’s Conscientiousness factor and negatively
correlated with its Agreeableness and Neuroticism factors; see Millon, 1994, p. 82), points to
concordance with the deliberative leadership style in Simonton’s conceptual model. According
to Simonton (1988), the deliberative leader
commonly “understands [the] implications of his decisions; exhibits depth of comprehension” …,
is “able to visualize alternatives and weigh long term consequences” …, “keeps himself
thoroughly informed; reads briefings [and] background reports” …, is “cautious, conservative in
action” …, [and only] infrequently “indulges in emotional outbursts.” (p. 931)
In addition, Putin’s low MIDC Scale 4 (Accommodating) score, in conjunction with his
elevation on the Dominant scale (which is negatively correlated with the five-factor model’s
Agreeableness factor), suggests that Putin’s leadership style is concordant with the low pole of
Simonton’s interpersonal style. According to Simonton (1988), a leader low on interpersonality
“accepts recommendations of others only under protest” …, “believes he knows what is best for
the people” …, “is emphatic in asserting his judgments” ..., is “suspicious of reformers” …, is
“impatient, abrupt in conference” …, “bases decisions on willfulness and egotism” …, “tends
to force decisions to be made prematurely” …, and “rarely permits himself to be outflanked.”
(p. 931)
Furthermore, a leader low on interpersonality typically will not
“[encourage] the exercise of independent judgment by aides” …, “[give] credit to others for work
done” …, “[endear himself] to staff through his courtesy and consideration” …, “[be] flexible” …,
“[emphasize] teamwork” …, “[be frequently] in contact with his advisers” …, “[maintain] close
relationships with a wide circle of associates” …, “[be] willing to make compromises” …, “[rely]
on working in a staff system, deciding among options formulated by advisers” …, “[and keep]
members of his staff informed.” (Simonton, 1988, pp. 929, 931)
Etheredge’s Two-Dimensional Interpersonal Generalization Foreign Policy Theory
Lloyd Etheredge (1978) and Margaret Hermann (1987) developed personality-based models
of foreign policy leadership orientation that can be employed rationally and intuitively to
enhance and complement the predictive utility of Millon’s model with respect to leadership
performance in the arena of international relations.
In terms of Etheredge’s (1978) fourfold typology of personality-based foreign policy role
orientations, which locates policymakers on the dimensions of dominance–submission and
introversion–extraversion, Putin’s Scale 1A (Dominant) elevation suggests that he is highly
dominant in orientation. His elevation on Scale 8 (Retiring), in conjunction with a flat Scale 3
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 31
(Outgoing), offers convincing evidence of introversion. Thus, Putin is best classified as a high-
dominance introvert in Etheredge’s (1978) typology of personality-based foreign policy role
orientations. According to Etheredge, high-dominance introverts tend
to divide the world, in their thought, between the moral values they think it ought to exhibit and
the forces opposed to this vision. They tend to have a strong, almost Manichean, moral component
to their views. They tend to be described as stubborn and tenacious. They seek to reshape the
world in accordance with their personal vision, and their … policies are often characterized by the
tenaciousness with which they advance one central idea. … [They] seem relatively preoccupied
with themes of exclusion, the establishment of institutions or principles to keep potentially
disruptive forces in check. (p. 449; italics in original)
Hermann’s Foreign Policy Role Orientation Model
Etheredge’s high-dominance introvert appears to be quite similar in character to Hermann’s
(1987) expansionist orientation to foreign affairs. These leaders have a view of the world as
being “divided into ‘us’ and ‘them’,” based on a belief system in which conflict is viewed as
inherent in the international system. This world view prompts a personal political style
characterized by a “wariness of others’ motives” and a “directive,” controlling interpersonal
orientation, prompting a foreign policy “focused on issues of security and status,” favoring “low-
commitment actions” and espousing “short-term, immediate change in the international arena.”
Expansionist leaders “are not averse to using the ‘enemy’ as a scapegoat” and their rhetoric often
may be “hostile in tone” (pp. 168–169). In essence, Hermann conceptualizes the expansionist
orientation in terms of political motivation to acquire “control over more territory, resources, or
people” (p. 168).
Conclusion
In closing, the major practical implication of the study is that it offers an empirically based
personological framework for conceptualizing and anticipating Vladimir Putin’s political
behavior as president of the Russian Federation. In short, Putin’s particular blend of personality
patterns suggests a personality-based leadership style aptly characterized as that of an
expansionist hostile enforcer, with a foreign policy role orientation best described as that of a
deliberative high-dominance introvert.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 32
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Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 34
APPENDIX A
We conclude this research report with a newspaper opinion column on which the present authors
collaborated at the conclusion of the data collection phase of the study in August 2014.
Prole Hints at Putin Mindset
Russian President Vladimir Pun speaks Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 at the
opening ceremony of the monument to the Heroes of World War I,
behind him, on the day of the 100th anniversary of its beginning in
Victory Park on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow, Russia. (Photo credit: AP)
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St. Cloud Times
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Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 35
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""> !$""$$(
" ! ))$)$)$"$$!*$0 $/
"41$!$!)$$$
/)0/!/$!$1/$0 .
$1$!)0".!$"$"$$$$(1
7:)$$!$!&$0$$"=4
$$$)$1$!""/$*0"(1
""$$/:)$!$""!/) 
$$$$ $*/4$*
)/.<!!/"$!$$.!!/
$$?$/ ""$!$!,4)$
)<(
Putin is Russia
,*" !!!!* "+$$!"@/
0"@10!$1$$$)$/")*(+"""AB
$!+$4)$" !"/ """/+$()$/
$$! "":$!/.)$!!$/" "
!$!"$/"+$$$$!"$(,+$C+$
,(
""," !*/)$! $
$ $?$.$!$$ "
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 36
$)$)<?"!)$$!/$!!)"!
// $!"@(
& !$.$ ""$$*"@*!
))$!!$"$") (
This is the opinion of Joe Trenzeluk, Inver Grove Heights, a junior psychology major
at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where he is a summer
research fellow in the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, directed by
Aubrey Immelman.
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 37
APPENDIX B
March 2022 Update
Table B1
MIDC Item Endorsement Rate by Attribute Domain for Vladimir Putin
Diagnostic criteria (Items)
Attribute domain Present Possible
Expressive behavior 8 14
Interpersonal conduct 11 13
Cognitive style 6 9
Mood/temperament 10 13
Self-image 9 10
Sum 44 59
Mean 8.8 11.8
Standard deviation 1.7 1.9
Table B2
MIDC Scale Scores for Vladimir Putin
Scale Personality pattern Lower Upper
1A Dominant: Asserting–Controlling–Aggressive (Sadistic) 16 24
1B Dauntless: Adventurous–Dissenting–Aggrandizing (Antisocial) 5 7
2 Ambitious: Confident–Self-serving–Exploitative (Narcissistic) 14 21
3 Outgoing: Congenial–Gregarious–Impulsive (Histrionic) 0 3
4 Accommodating: Cooperative–Agreeable–Submissive (Dependent) 2 2
5A Aggrieved: Unpresuming–Self-denying–Self-defeating (Masochistic) 0 0
5B Contentious: Resolute–Oppositional–Negativistic (Passive-aggressive) 3 6
6 Conscientious: Respectful–Dutiful–Compulsive (Obsessive-compulsive) 12 14
7 Reticent: Circumspect–Inhibited–Withdrawn (Avoidant) 1 1
8 Retiring: Reserved–Aloof–Solitary (Schizoid) 7 10
Subtotal for basic personality scales 60 88
9 Distrusting: Suspicious–Paranoid (Paranoid) 8 16
0 Erratic: Unstable–Borderline (Borderline) 0 0
Full-scale total 68 104
Political Personality of Vladimir Putin 38
Figure B1. Vladimir Putin Profile (with range of values likely to contain the true value)
40 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Markedly
36 - - - - - - - - - - e e disturbed
33 - - - - - - - - - - - -
30 - - - - - - - - - - - -
27 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Mildly
disturbed 24 c c
21 - - - - - - - - - - - - Moderately
d d disturbed
18 - - - - - - - - - -
15 - -
12 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Prominent
10 b b - -
8 - -
6 - - - - - - - - - -
Present 5 a a - -
4 - -
3 - - - - - - - - - -
2 - - - - - - - - - -
1 - - - - - - - - - -
0 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8 9 10
Upper: 24 7 21 3 2 0 6 14 1 10 16 0
Lower: 16 5 14 0 2 0 3 12 1 7 8 0
Research Proposal
Full-text available
Despite major neuroscientific advances in the past two decades and parallel conceptual refinement in evolutionary theory, personality-in-politics inquiry remains adrift, divorced from these broader spheres of scientific knowledge. This paper reviews the neurobiological substrates of three major domains of evolutionary biology and behavioral ecology relevant to political personality assessment and the psychological examination of political leaders; furnishes a context and set of guiding ideas to revitalize the study of the person as biopsychosocial entity in politics; advances a generative theory of personality and political leadership performance; and proposes an agenda for advancing personality-in-politics and leadership inquiry, informed by insights derived from the contextually adjacent fields of behavioral neuroscience and evolutionary ecology.
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