Months before the 2016 U.S. presidential election took place, Dan P. McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, set out to better understand Donald Trump, and how his personality might influence the way he would govern if he were ever to be elected.
In his article “The Mind of Donald Trump,” McAdams concluded that the then-presidential hopeful is extremely extroverted, extremely disagreeable, narcissistic, and filled with anger. McAdams suggested that Trump is a fighter, but that, apart from a desire to win, it is not clear what motivates him to fight. “It is as if Trump has invested so much of himself in developing and refining his socially dominant role that he has nothing left over to create a meaningful story for his life, or for the nation,” he wrote at the time.
I recently spoke with McAdams about what has happened since the election, and whether he believes the last few months can tell us anything about Trump’s presidency. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Clare Foran: Now that Trump has taken office, is there anything you’d revise in your original analysis of who he is and what he might do as president?
Dan P. McAdams: I have to admit that when I wrote the piece I did not think he would win the election. If I were writing it today, though, I would stick pretty much with what I wrote, but I would emphasize two things more than I did.