Trump rates higher than Hitler on psychopath scale, says Oxford study

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Aug 23, 2016 18:38 IST
A man holds a sign declaring Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a Nazi. (AFP Photo)

US presidential hopeful Donald Trump ranks higher than Adolf Hitler in psychopathic traits, according to a unique ranking of past and present world leaders developed at the University of Oxford.

Trump scored 171 point, two more than Adolf Hitler, while Saddam Hussein topped the list with a score of 189. Trump’s Democratic Party rival Hillary Clinton got a score of 152, placing her in the top 20% and between Napoleon and Nero.

The top five historical individuals in research psychologist Kevin Dutton’s study are former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Henry VIII, former Ugandan despot Idi Amin, Adolf Hitler and William the Conqueror. Gandhi ranked last in the list of top 20% individuals studied, a university release said on Tuesday.

The findings of research psychologist Kevin Dutton’s unique study. (University of Oxford)

Dutton has been exploring the psychopathic traits of the US presidential hopefuls and historical figures using a standard psychometric tool – the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R).

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Over the past few years, Dutton contacted official biographers of many historical leaders and asked them to fill out, on their subject’s behalf, an abbreviated version of the PPI-R. Trump did not take the tests himself and his ranking was based on expert opinions on how he would have scored.

The results, published in the journal Scientific American Mind, showed Trump scored higher than rivals, achieving a total score on a par with Hitler and Idi Amin. Of particular interest, Trump outscored the other candidates in “fearless dominance”, the area associated with successful presidencies, and in “self-centred impulsivity”, the set of traits considered negative.

Dutton said: “It is interesting that these scores reflect both the praise and the criticism that Trump and Clinton receive. In the end, while both score relatively highly, it will be up to voters to decide whether their mix of positive and negative traits should send them to the Oval Office or the psychiatrist’s office.”

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He said the PPI-R does not say that “someone is or is not a psychopath”.

“It scores them on eight traits that contribute to a psychopathic character. Some of those traits, such as fearlessness or stress immunity, can be positive. Others, such as blame externalisation or being unconcerned about the future, are more likely to be negative. One, cold-heartedness, can contribute to good and bad leadership,” he said.

“Both great and terrible leaders score higher than the general population for psychopathic traits, but it is the mix of those traits that determines success,” he added.

Dutton has spent much of his career looking at psychopaths and researching psychopathic traits, identifying those which can be of benefit and those which can lead to incarceration. He contends that being a psychopath is not an all-or-nothing affair.

The “league table” showed the vast majority of the individuals are high scorers – including former prime minister Winston Churchill – especially on positive aspects such as social influence, fearlessness and coolness under pressure.

However, the analysis also revealed that leaders who possess psychopathy’s negative traits – such as self-centredness, impulsivity and a lack of empathy – tend not to do so well in office.

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