|July 1, 1997|
In an "Unconventional Wisdom" column this spring, The Washington Post asked, "Who was the most narcissistic president of them all?"
The answer, according to a psychologist quoted by the newspaper, was Chester Arthur, of the Class of 1848.
Arthur was a "flamboyant figure in the salons of Washington and New York," the article said. "With natty side whiskers and a stylish wardrobe that reputedly included eighty pairs of pants, he earned the nicknames 'Elegant Arthur' and 'Gentleman Boss.' (Others were less kind, calling him 'Prince Arthur' and 'the Dude President.')"
The study, led by a professor at Bryant College in Rhode Island, used a technique called historiometry. Teams of college students read specially-prepared profiles of each president and filled out a Narcissistic Personal Inventory about each chief executive. The ratings were published in the academic journal Leadership Quarterly.
According to the study, narcissists are driven to seek the limelight; have an overly developed sense of entitlement, believing that they deserve to be successful and have the best; and are extraordinarily self-confident, single-minded, and selfishly persuasive.
The other highly-narcissistic presidents? Franklin D. Roosevelt was number two, followed by Lyndon Johnson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan. The least narcissistic? Calvin Coolidge.