Wednesday 26 October 2016

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton measured up against history's villains

Published 22/08/2016 | 17:21

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will square up in the presidential election
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will square up in the presidential election

US presidential candidate Donald Trump possesses stronger psychopathic tendencies than Adolf Hitler, a study has suggested.

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Research from the University of Oxford assessed this year's candidates for the White House to determine how highly they ranked on the psychopath scale.

They were scored on a number of personality traits typical in psychopaths - including fearlessness, cold-heartedness and egocentricity.

While the study found Donald Trump's score puts him in the company of some of history's greatest despots, including Hitler and Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, his opponent Hillary Clinton found herself alongside Napoleon Bonaparte and Emperor Nero.

The study contended that although psychopathy - typically associated with remorseless killers - exists along a spectrum, some people can possess certain qualities without developing murderous intent.

It claimed that it was not just barbarous leaders who populated the upper echelons of the rankings - as Saint Paul and even Jesus appeared high on the psychopathic leaderboard.

It added that possessing such tendencies might not be to the presidential candidates' detriment, as the right combination of psychopathic characteristics can make for a good leader.

Experts on the political figures were asked to answer 56 questions from the psychopathic personality inventory-revised (PPI-R) test to determine a score.

Study author Dr Kevin Dutton 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.

"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.

"For example, someone who scores highly for being influential, fearless and cold hearted could be a decisive leader who can make dispassionate decisions. If those traits are accompanied by a high score on blaming others, they might be a genocidal demagogue."

Mr Trump outstripped Hitler on factors including social influence and fearlessness, while the genocidal Nazi dictator scored higher on "Machiavellian egocentricity" and cold-heartedness .

While ranking lower than her rival overall, Mrs Clinton far exceeded tyrannical Roman emperor Nero on traits such as "Machiavellian egocentricity".

One characteristic typical in strong leadership was fearless dominance - an area in which Mr Trump scored especially highly.

The findings, published in the the journal Scientific American Mind, found that another high-scoring area for the billionaire businessman, self-centred impulsivity could undermine this, however.

History has been littered with famous figures who exhibit psychopathic tendencies, it said, with other high-scorers including Henry VIII and Winston Churchill.

Other professions in which such characteristics allow an individual to flourish are business, the military and law, the research said.

Press Association

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