:wink: Like many have been saying all along …. Are YOU fit to be president? Take the test - being-human - 24 October 2008 - New Scientist Think you could do a better job than Barack Obama or John McCain? To find out if you're fit for the Oval Office, simply take this personality test. I came across the test while researching a story about how conscientious people live longer. The authors of that study, Howard Friedman and Margaret Kern of the University of California at Riverside, cited George Washington as a prime example of someone unusually conscientious, noting that he lived to 67 – about twice the expected lifespan in America at the time. But Washington's exemplary conscientiousness came to light in a remarkable study in 2000 led by Steven Rubenzer, a forensic psychologist in Houston, Texas. He and his colleagues made psychological assessments of all 41 US presidents prior to George W Bush. You can see the main results here, where they ranked the presidents into eight different types, from "dominators" to "actors". Extravert McCain More recently, Rubenzer used the same tool to profile the three potential presidential candidates John McCain, Rudolf Guiliani and Hillary Clinton, presenting his results in July 2007 at the annual meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, the analysis didn't include Barack Obama. "There wasn't enough quality biography on him to do so," Rubenzer says. Compared with average scores of previous presidents, McCain scored strongly on the trait of "extraversion". However, he was below average on "agreeableness" and "conscientiousness". He also scored highly on "angry hostility", "impulsivity", "excitement seeking", "positive emotions" and "openness to feelings", but was low on "compliance" and "deliberateness". "McCain is most similar to presidents classified as extraverts such as Franklin D Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt and John F Kennedy, and dominators, again including Theodore Roosevelt, and Andrew Jackson," Rubenzer says in the 2007 paper. Both Guiliani and Hillary Clinton scored extremely low on agreeableness. In fact, on overall ratings, McCain came out best of the three. "McCain shows the highest resemblance to a composite rating of better-that-average presidents," says Rubenzer. "This may have been due to his higher extraversion than the other two." In all his studies, Rubenzer asks biographers of individual presidents to rate the psychological characteristics of the president they had studied. As in the test above, they rated on a five-point scale the "Big Five" factors of personality (neuroticism, extroversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness), as well as rating the presidents for 30 sub-factors. Great to be untidy In all, the test gives 240 items of measurement for each president, and the researchers worked out which presidents were the "greatest" by comparing them against each other, a kind of peer-versus-peer test. Rubenzer and colleagues found that the most important traits for true greatness were "openness", "assertiveness" (a sub-set of extraversion) and "achievement striving" (a subset of conscientiousness). "Conscientiousness" generally also emerged as a predictor of historical greatness, they say, and Washington came out highest on that measure, and Bill Clinton one of the lowest. Perhaps surprisingly, the best presidents also need to be haphazard. "Being a bit disorganised, like Abraham Lincoln, is somewhat of an asset for attaining historical greatness," they say. Perhaps less surprisingly, they also need to fib a bit rather than be straightforward, as a tactic to persuade people and achieve their ends. "They are not above tricking, cajoling, bullying or lying if necessary – they are true politicians, playing the right tune to each crowd," Rubenzer's team reports. Political spinners So who were the arch "spin doctors"? Again, Roosevelt came up, as did Lyndon B Johnson. But perhaps the trait of most vital importance is "openness to experience" – the ability to assimilate new values, emotions, feelings and aesthetics. This trait also correlates most strongly with intelligence, says Rubenzer. "Great presidents are attentive to their emotions, willing to question traditional values and try new ways of doing things, imaginative and more interested in art and beauty than less successful ones," say the researchers. "Historically great, high-openness presidents include Jefferson and Lincoln." So who was the greatest? Probably Washington, according to the researchers. "Washington embodies the traditional virtues of duty, responsibility, self-discipline, leadership and courage," they write, although "He falls quite short of the modern political commodities of warmth, empathy and open-mindedness."