$55,000 First Year Salary | Learn More

Faculty News

Published 12/07/15

Deluga an authority on presidential charisma, narcissism, effectiveness

Ron DelugaProfessor of Applied Psychology Ronald Deluga, Ed.D., may well be the leading authority on presidential charisma and narcissism.

Deluga was among the first researchers to explore whether narcissism as a personality trait could be used to predict presidential charismatic leadership. He also wondered whether a relationship existed between narcissism and presidential effectiveness. He hypothesized that presidential narcissism was positively related to charismatic leadership and performance rating.  Using historiometric procedures and psychological diagnostic tools, he  analyzed data on 39 American chief executives from George Washington to Ronald Reagan. (Chester A. Arthur had the highest narcissism score; Calvin Coolidge, the lowest.) His findings, which confirmed his hypothesis, were published in The Leadership Quarterly in 1997 in a paper titled "Relationship Among American Presidential Charismatic Leadership, Narcissism, and Rated Performance."

“An understanding of narcissism and charismatic leadership in the American presidency is important due to the far-ranging impact of presidential performance,” he wrote in the paper. He also noted that future research on the topic “might explore the conditions under which narcissism is detrimental to the charismatic leadership process.”

Scholars have cited his findings in their own research papers nearly 130 times, and now his work is informing media coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign: Time magazine cited his 1997 paper in its Dec. 4 article headlined “Donald Trump’s Very Strange Brand of Narcissism.” The article argues that narcissism is “practically the table stakes for anyone who considers running for president.”

Deluga, winner of the Distinguished Alumni Faculty Award in 1991, has taught at Bryant since 1981. With Professors Janet Morahan-Martin, Ph.D., and Nanci Weinberger, Ph.D., he co-founded the psychology department at Bryant.  He is a member of the Academy of Management and the American Psychological Association. Deluga’s previous studies have been cited in publications such as The Los Angeles Times, Scientific American, and Chicago Tribune.