Firstly, an in-depth examination of Trump’s autobiographies, documentaries, and articles will be conducted in order to bring insight to his life experiences, and his relationship with his father. Secondly, the paper will analyze Trump’s experiences through the perspective of Adler’s superiority complex, Bandura’s social learning theory, as well as the interpersonal theories of personality to assist in understanding why Trump functions the way he does. Thirdly, the paper will emphasize the benefits of the three aforementioned perspectives and how they are advantageous in dissecting Mr.
Trump’s personality traits. Lastly, the paper will briefly mention the limitations of the three theories in representing the characteristics of Mr. Trump. Firstly, an exploration of Trump’s life experiences, and the relationship he had with his father will highlight experiences that contributed to his personality complexion. Trump was born in 1946, the fourth child of five children of Frederick and Mary Trump. Throughout the course of his childhood, Trump displayed a high aptitude for leadership, and demonstrated this in his relationships with family, friends, and peers.
He also displayed very assertive and aggressive tendencies during elementary school, which resulted in his parents sending him to military school at the age of thirteen (Trump, 1987). It was here that Trump learned the art of ‘playing people’ and this would be an important contributor to his charismatic skills that are displayed in his later career. Trump idolized his father as a child, and he developed and matured under the strong influence of his father’s ideals (Trump, 1987). His father, being a successful real estate developer, played a prominent role in the development of Trump’s legacy.
Trump worked for his father early on and joined the family business upon graduating from college. Trump spent much of his time in college reading the listings of Federal Housing Administration foreclosures, and this is how he came to obtain his first big project with his father (Trump, 1987). He came to learn that he could get the best deals purchasing foreclosed buildings through a government agency because they just wanted to get rid of the building as fast as possible. After working a few projects with his father, Trump decided he would expand his fortune by moving to Manhattan and develop real estate in a more opulent part of New York.
Trump was very successful in his undertakings and made very important partnerships with Manhattan’s elite, and his empire grew at an exponential rate. While Trump enjoyed his intense, and luxurious success, it abruptly changed during the recession in the early 1990’s when Trump found himself billions of dollars in debt. Trump reports this to be the lowest moment he had ever encountered in his life (Trump, 2008). This may have been the bottommost of his career but he was resilient during the darkness of the recession, and did not stop his fight to gain back his empire.
Secondly, an exploration of personality theories such as Adler’s superiority complex, Bandura’s social learning theory, and the Machiavellianism perspective of interpersonal theorists will be documented to bring forth connections in Trump’s psychological facades that are overtly displayed throughout his interactions with others. Mentioned earlier was Trump’s idolization of his father and his ambition to follow in his father’s footsteps and in order to gain his father’s approval, Trump had to succeed in his father’s business.
In accordance with Alder’s theory of the superiority complex, Trump’s feelings of being inferior to his father are overcompensated for by a superiority complex. This meant Trump needed to overachieve, and go beyond the expectations his father had set forth in his company in order to mask his inferior feelings. Trump does not deny his tendency to overachieve and aim big with his projects. In fact, Trump states in his autobiography, The Art of the Deal, that he wanted to accomplish something “grander, more glamorous, and more exciting” than his
father had achieved (Trump, 1987). Many of Trumps Manhattan developments reflect his grandiose ambitions, for example (find information about his first building). Another dimension of the superiority complex is a tendency to fawn on prominent people (Flett, 2007). When Trump first moved to Manhattan he was not known nor respected among the top business gurus in the real estate business. In order to advance himself socially and professionally, Trump had to surround himself in the inner circles of the Manhattan elite.
He accomplished this by joining, Le Club, one of the “hottest and exclusive clubs” in the city (Trump, 1987). By surrounding himself with the wealthiest people in the city of Manhattan, Trump was able to establish himself socially and professionally, which led to many of the Manhattan elite purchasing the most expensive apartments in the Trump buildings (Trump, 1987). Trump has reported that he followed in his father’s footsteps, and expanded his empire off of the basic foundation that his father originally created.
According to the social learning theory developed by Albert Bandura, behaviours that make up our personality are obtained through observational learning (Flett, 2007). Individuals learn and are shaped by the actions of the primary people in their environment and thus, are unconsciously molded to portray the behavioural characteristics of these primary figures. Trump idolized his father as a child, and he developed and matured under the strong influence of his father’s ideals (Trump, 1987).
Many of Trump’s profound succeeding characteristics such as ambition, dedication, and aggression can also be viewed in his father. For this paper, the focus will be on one of Trumps dominant traits, aggression, and how his father fashioned this trait into him. A classic study was conducted by Bandura to demonstrate the effects of social learning on children. This study demonstrated that when children witnessed the aggressive behaviour of an adult on a doll they were subsequently much more aggressive (Flett, 2007).
Trump has quoted his father as being a very resilient man as “tough as hell” (Trump, 1987). Trump was socialized in a home environment that promoted a hard-hitting attitude because it was the only way to succeed in a ‘dog eat dog world’. The final theory to be used in the analysis of Trumps personality and behavioural characteristics will be the Machiavellian personality style of the interpersonal theorists. According to the text, it is suggested that Machiavellian men will influence others through aggressive tactics as well as ingratiation for personal gain (Flett, 2007). Mr.
Trump has demonstrated a tough-minded strategy throughout many of his projects, leading to his successful advances in the real estate business. First off, many of his projects began as a result of him seizing property from floundering proprietors, which can be viewed as rather domineering because he is advancing at a time when these landowners have very limited options. For example, Trump was able to purchase what is now one of the most successful hotel casinos in the world by patiently awaiting the downfall, and inability for a fellow real estate developer, Barron Hilton to complete his project (Trump, 1987).
Hilton began the construction of his casino only to find his plans to be short lived due to difficulty obtaining a gambling license for his building. Trump targets the weaknesses and failures of others in order to advance his successes. His ruthless technique is practical in the sense that he gets the best deal by swooping in at just the right time to make a big purchase. Trump’s Machiavelli nature is also exposed in the influential documentary about his recent development of the golf course in Scotland.
Trump purchased land in Scotland, which was associated with some of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, and promised that with the development of his golf course he would bring over six thousand jobs to the local community (Takeaway, 2013). His promise to bring economic prosperity to the community reflects the ingratiation that is common amongst Machiavellians. The assurance to ease the strife of unemployment is a tactic Trump used because he gathered local support in order to succeed in the development of his project.
Thirdly, this paper will highlight the contributions of Adler’s theory of the superiority complex, the Machiavellian theory of interpersonal theorists, and Bandura’s social learning theory. Each of the three theories highlights the important personality characteristic of Donald Trump and all are helpful in explaining his behaviours. Lastly, the limitations of using the three above-mentioned theories must be noted to prevent the establishment of immature conclusions on Trumps personality characteristics.