Donald Trump, role fit, & COVID-19

Theo Dawson
2 min readApr 14, 2020


In 2017, I wrote a series of articles comparing the complexity of thinking demonstrated by eight current and recent national leaders. One of our major findings was that the reasoning demonstrated by Donald Trump was far less complex than the reasoning demonstrated by all of the other leaders in our international sample, which was composed of the most recent American and Australian leaders.

President Trump’s scores consistently fell in the middle of a developmental level called abstract mappings or level 10. This means that his scores were close to the average scores of high school graduates. More importantly, they were far, far below the complexity level of most issues he would face in his role as President of the United States.

In my earlier articles, I discussed some of the implications of President Trump’s low complexity scores. In summary, these were:

  1. President Trump would view complex issues in simplistic, black and white, either-or terms.
  2. He would not be able to incorporate the consideration of long-term implications in his decisions.
  3. He would not be able to take into account the perspectives of more than one or two stakeholders at a time.
  4. And he would not be able to see the complexity inherent in many of the issues he would face as president.
  5. Consequently, he would be entirely incapable of formulating or recognizing an optimal solution to a highly complex problem.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a highly complex problem, and Donald Trump has performed as predicted.

I am fully aware of Donald Trump’s narcissism and likely sociopathic tendencies, which clearly make matters worse. But the point I am making here is that even without these failings, Donald Trump would not have anything close to the mental ability required do deal with the complexity of his role.

We did Donald Trump, the United States, and the world a great disservice when we hired him to fill a role he’s not equipped to perform. As a people, we created the conditions in which it became possible to make such a tragic error. The question in my mind now is, “Will we address these conditions, or will we simply continue our national blame-game?”

Earlier articles



Theo Dawson

Award-winning educator, scholar, & consultant, Dr. Theo Dawson, discusses a wide range of topics related to learning and development.