Political Leadership

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Political Leadership: 

Political Leadership Lecture 10: March 31, 2005 PSC337: Political Psychology


Outline Simulation What is a leader? Why is studying leadership important? Psychoanalytical approach Psychological profiling First political success (Barber, 1977) Active/passive – Positive, Negative Personality-at-a-distance

What is Leadership? : 

What is Leadership? Leader can play different roles: Pied Piper Sales Person Puppet Fire Fighter What do we expect from leaders? A bit of every type: A superhero.

Ingredients of Leadership: 

Ingredients of Leadership To understand leadership we have to learn something about: Leader’s personality and background. What groups and individuals the leader is accountable to and what they are like. The nature of the relationship between the leader and who he or she leads. Context or setting in which leadership takes place. What happens when the leader and those led interact in a specific situation. What kind of leadership we have depends on the combination of these factors. Different combinations of these variables provide different results.

Why (and When) is Studying Political Leadership Important?: 

Why (and When) is Studying Political Leadership Important? Small role compared to other objective rational interests. Ex. Creation of EMU Three conditions in which leadership can be important (Greenstein) Political Environment admits of restructuring. Leader is strategically placed in environment. Leader possesses the personal and cognitive skills to manipulate the environment.


Psycho-Biography Focused on explaining an interesting event or behavior. Mainly focused on pathologies and self-esteem Ex. Hardball practitioner (Etheredge)

Why did Van Gogh Cut Off his Ear?: 

Why did Van Gogh Cut Off his Ear? Dec. 23, 1988, Van Gogh Cut off his ear and gave it to a prostitute. 13 explanations Mainly looking for one explanation Use evidence to support and reject hypotheses.

Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House (George and George): 

Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House (George and George) Remarkable talented, ambitious and disciplined person. on a few significant occasions, disrupted by rigid, unskillful and self-defeating episodes. Wilson fixate on one opponent, dig himself into an untenable position, become mired in righteous indignation, and develop a seemingly constitutional incapacity to compromise or finesse. Ex. Paris conference and ratification of league of nations in the senate.

Woodrow Wilson Cont. : 

Woodrow Wilson Cont. George and George: based around self-esteem and repression. power was for him a compensatory value, a means of restoring the self-esteem damaged in childhood (by his demanding and perfectionist father) His Calvinist conscience. It is necessary to distinguish Wilson the power-seeker from Wilson the power-holder. Pent up aggressive impulses which could find expression at last through his leadership tactics. This demand for unqualified submission to his leadership lay root of the most serious crises of his career.

Different views on Wilson: 

Different views on Wilson Some claim that at the Paris Peace conference and subsequent Senate debate over the League of Nations, Woodrow Wilson was suffering from a cerbro-vascular disorder. Might have enhanced behavior, but pattern was consistent throughout. Also claim that dyslexia and not unconscious rebellion against his father Dyslexia and psyche are complementary.

Reagan’s Midlife Crisis and Turn to the Right (Glad).: 

Reagan’s Midlife Crisis and Turn to the Right (Glad).

Reagan Cont. : 

Reagan Cont. Reagan changed from Democrat to Republican as a result of a Mid-Life Crisis. Wife left him Career problems. Blamed it on alien philosophies that had indoctrinated Hollywood and the Government (Communism) Society is good and talent and efforts are rewarded.

Reagan cont. 2: 

Reagan cont. 2 Reagan’s personality also played a role: Black and White thinking Tended to adapt to role requirements Denies/ignores events that threaten his world view. Detaches from disturbing emotions. Displacement of anger on safe targets (communists) Rationalizes events in his own benefit and blames it on his wife, the government, the communists.

Use of profiling to predict behavior : 

Use of profiling to predict behavior Profile of Saddam Hussein: Exalted self Concept: Saddam is Iraq, Iraq is Saddam. No constraint of conscience Unconstraint aggression in pursuit of his goals. Paranoid orientation Views self as one of History’s great leaders Probably over-reads degree of support in the Arab world. Capable of reversing his course. A rational calculator who often miscalculates.

Post and Saddam Hussein: 

Post and Saddam Hussein Post tries to explain why given his personality, Saddam Hussein chose to not withdraw from Kuwait. Post predicts what would happen if you push Saddam to hard; How well does it predict how Iraq reacted to the war? How useful do you think these profiles are?

First political success : 

First political success Barber 1977: First political success will shape the way leaders act. Fall back on rhetoric and acts that helped before Because this was their first success, they tend to be more vivid and given extra significance. Ex. Reagan and the screen actors guild Ex. Arafat and election to the University of Cairo Student Union.

Barber (1977): 

Barber (1977) Based on prior political experience, US presidents can be divided into four categories based on active/passive and positive/negative dimensions.

George W. Bush, an Active Negative?: 

George W. Bush, an Active Negative? Think of presidents since FDR, where would you place them within this framework? Is there a best or a worst type? http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20040521.html

Personality at a Distance (Hermann): 

Personality at a Distance (Hermann) Derive Leadership from spontaneous text. Used to code by hand, but now use computers. 7 leadership traits: Belief can control events Need for power Self confidence Conceptual complexity Task focus In-group bias Distrust of others

Creating a leadership style profile: 

Creating a leadership style profile Respect or challenges constraints: interaction of belief can control event and need for power. Is the leader open or closed to contextual information: Interaction between self confidence and conceptual complexity. Motivated by problems or relationships: Score on task focus. Motivation towards the world: Interaction between Ingroup bias and distrust of others. Expansionistic, Evangelistic, Actively independent, Directive, Incremental, Influential, Opportunistic, Collegial

Saddam Hussein’s leadership Style: 

Saddam Hussein’s leadership Style

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