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With reference to examples, critically analyse the role played by personality in the formulation and implementation of foreign policy.

In the field of international relations, scholars have accredited political outcomes to situational factors and structures, hereby minimizing the importance of leaders. However, in recent years, political scientists have been called upon by a growing number of scholars who seek an explanation of political outcomes through the traditional negligence of leaders. An irrefutable principle of logic is that states do not make decisions, individuals do. The personality of an individual plays a highly important role in decision-making. Personality variables are often neglected by parts of political research and understanding how and when of actions, personality is of central importance to the rationalization of state behaviour. Personality variables are directly linked to the explanation of the actions of decision-makers, the actions of states. To this point in history, there can be no parsimonious theory to explain the behaviour of humans or their institution. At the root of all social science research is the question 'why?'- Why does personality influence a state's final outcome, the decision implemented within foreign policy? This question is addressed and adopted by many scholars and theorists who research into possible output theories explaining this.

Individuals who are involved in a bureaucratic setting know and understand how much of the decision-making process is devoted to/influenced by pride, egomania, one-upmanship and other games that have relatively any relation to the objective conditions the bureaucracy has to confront with (Allison 1971). Realist explanations of the global behaviour of states still use the state and its "interests" as the central causal element. Realist theories argue that through parsimonious theory, personality variables/aspects/elements can be eradicated throughout the time of the bureaucratic setting, in particular when dealing with further routine bureaucratic decisions. In accordance to Lakato's idea of progressive auxiliary hypothesis (Lakato's 1970); when personality does make a difference in the behaviour of a person, an institution or a system, which becomes the focus of the theory, it must be considered a necessary appendage to his main explanation. His hypothesis is an impromptu amendment to a theory that helps it explain better. The main problems about personality variables within a decision-maker rely in two questions - the problem of actor dispensability - would the same decision have been made by any other person in the same position? Second - the problem on action dispensability - are the actions of the person involved at the critical moment in history essential in altering the outcomes? Or whether larger forces are at work? (Greenstein 1969) The problems of actor dispensability argue that decision-makers express their own desires and whims wilfully. Unprecedented, unplanned and novel situations allow more autonomy for the expression of personality attributes. Action dispensability however, argues that when the actor's environment is unbalanced and restructuring, the requirement is satisfied (buscar en internet). Furthermore, when the actor's location in the decision-making structure and the relevant skills needed to deal with the situation, allow greater impact than some other actor, given the same set of initial circumstances (rewording and meaning). Basically, through a psychological research perspective, individuals in a strong leadership position, whose environment is flexible and highly ambiguous, and whose roles are defectively delineated or changeable through personal prudence are much more profitable subjects for political personality analysis.

The case of Stalin

Stalin portrayed a presence of evident and influential personality attributes, which presents an ideal subject for the use of personality variables in foreign policy making. Besides a few noteworthy exceptions, it is seldom considered that Stalin's acts were the product of underlying psychological needs (Rancour-Laferiere, 1988). However, it is believed that Stalin's personality lists numerous characteristics of a paranoid psychology. But aside from this credence, many consider Stalin's personality is significant in the portrayal of soviet behaviour; nonetheless do not encompass a psychological 'diagnosis' of paranoia. Conversely, Tucker's (1991) description of Stalin is almost perfectly suitable to the clinical definition of paranoia. He describes Stalin having "painfully sensitive self-esteem" and an "idealized self" where he claimed his enemies were to be considered enemies of the state. There are several major episodes of Soviet policy which examine this claim, but the main focus is on the period immediately following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. A question which must be addressed is 'How and to what extent did Stalin's personality interact with and affect Soviet policies?' Stalin infamously possessed numerous enemies which expanded exponentially, alongside his state policies which wrought ever-greater failure on the Soviet economy and society. For Stalin, in 1939 complete international isolation was over when Hitler sent a delegation to Moscow with the purpose of negotiating the well-known Ribbentrop-Molotov nonaggression act. Rancour-Laferiere (1988) claims that Stalin identified himself with Hitler and even admired him. Following this psychological identification, it apparently led Stalin to disbelieve that Hitler would never attack him - the state. Consequently Stalin reduced defences and military resistance on the Polish frontier were woefully scarce and inadequate. Eventually, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, yet Stalin thought reports were fabrications and provocations by German officers who wanted to initiate war between both states. A week after the attack, Stalin despondently fell into depression. Once he recovered, he began to assert himself in an aggressive and hostile manner planning a revengeful attack. His narcissistic personality component grew increasingly more superior. It is believed that Stalin used the Soviet bureaucracy as an ego defence, thus making the state at a critical period, an expansion of one man's personality. Stalin possessed a huge ego and an unclear personality which caused death and destruction to the Soviet Union. Along with the assumptions of his 'paranoia' a study of psychiatric patients and political activity demonstrated the capacity of paranoid individuals to rise to the top of a political organisation (Rutherford 1966). According to Lasswell (1948), an "unhealthy personality can survive in the uncertain arena of politics". A period of war in history was caused by his over-confidence, incautious and imprudent decision-making.

Presidential personality (disagree with personality variables)/ METHODS

One of the main obstacles to progress in the study of personality and politics is the intricacy in acquiring reliable and objective measures of personality. Greenstein stated in 1969: "scholars who study politics do not feel equipped to analyse personality in ways that meet their intellectual standards" (Greenstein 1969, pp.2). Nonetheless, several methods of personality assessment for political psychology have evolved. Stephenson (1953) developed the Q-Sorting Technique. More recently, Block (1978) also developed and enhanced this method for psychologists and Brown (1980) for political scientists. This method allows the researcher to compile expert personality assessments of individuals who are indirectly accessible. It offers a comparatively profound profile of presidential personality and may even be used to systematize data obtained using the case study approach. This method presents a rigorous and objective technique of comparing subjective personality assessments. The argument that presidential personality is unimportant and irrelevant when dealing with a state's foreign policy is based on at least two common assumptions. The personality and charisma of each president is a unique composite of many different personality traits, hence impossible to explain the regularities and variables of political behaviour. A corollary to this assumption is that since a president's personality is distinctive, offering rigorous and parsimonious theories to our understanding of recurring patterns in presidential behaviour is difficult to achieve and understand. Secondly, according to Craik (1986), the uncertain status of personality theory itself has caused various political psychologists to favour cognitive theories of political choice and behaviour, whilst avoiding personality variables, following the lead of other psychologists (Baars 1986).

American leaders

Despite numerous scholars believing and stating that personality characteristics do not affect foreign policy decisions, Etheredge (1978) has researched and argued the contrary. Studies within personality characteristics of American leaders have shown significant correlations of personality qualities with foreign policy preferences within mass publics. The study leans on two hypotheses of American foreign policy between 1898 and 1968. They were derived from the Interpersonal Generalization Theory created by Bjorn Christensen. He believed that behavioural differences in interpersonal situations produced similar behavioural differences in international situations. Nonetheless, the study was not definitive for understanding government behaviour in international relations. Moreover, the subjects were neither national leaders with expertise, extensive knowledge and responsibility, making it hard to assess their role and personality effects. It did not engage in discussion or take into account opposing views on issues asked about. Since Christiansen's study, various other studies have been carried out to support his theory in mass public samples. The theory shows that the individual's tendency is to generalize acts by psychological analogy intersecting available capabilities which produces, especially among Americans, a magnification of interpersonal tendencies. Etheredge believes that personality (cultural value, intelligence, etc) should not be addressed to identify a relation with foreign policy making, but in "variations" in personality characteristics which produce variations in policy preferences.

Ferguson and Barth's (2002) interests in the importance of personality in a political environment prompted them to research how personality affects an individual's ability to lead, focusing on American states. They developed a testing model - Gubernatorial Leadership - that merges personality with contextual and institutional characteristics. They focused on the importance of governors in the American system and their inter-relations with ultimate decision-makers, the president. Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson were distinguished for their knowledge of the "legislative process, their skills at manipulating that process and their apparent love of the political system" (Ferguson & Barth, 2002, pp. 789). Concerns over the model arose alleging that the institutional and political contexts also affect the opportunity and success of leadership, no matter the persona of the individual governor. Furthermore, institutional factors, short-term political factors (popularity, previous experience) and the economic environment also affect the credibility of the model. These factors are widely contended to affect the abilities of chief executives to wield leadership. Scher (1997) developed a 'Southern Gubernatorial Leadership model' that not only includes the political environment, but also the structure of the governor's office and 'personal attributes' as fundamental aspects in determining leadership styles. However, he solely noted that the model is "very abstract" and thus difficult to measure it (Scher 1997, pp. 303). Governors play an important role beside major decision-makers in shaping foreign policy, and their personality will have an effect on making it successful. A major Clinton White House speechwriter recently stated, "[Clinton] chose me to be his director of speechwriting not because of my liquid prose, but because it was thought, I understood his policies and his mind" (Waldman, 2000, pp. 16).

What stimulates an individual's ambitions or attracts them toward certain ideals? Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut and Karen Horney (1994) developed the 'Kohutian analysis' where political personality is based depending on the intensity of the fundamental personality features. The model identifies six key political personality profiles - Master, Achiever, Performer, Follower, Loner and Toward (psychological movement) (Swansbrough, 1994, pp. 227- 251). An analysis of George Bush (Senior) was carried out which determined him as an Achiever, portraying a competitive nature and a cognitive desire for details. He believed a good leader requires "hearing all the point of view before making the decision" (Bush, 1987, pp. 252). He worked as a CIA director which granted him the ability to analyse intelligence. This however created confusion in his administration during the October 1989 Panamanian coup attempt. He installed high- technology resources in the White House at an early stage which created disorder within unanalysed reports. His perseverance on having complete information and total control delayed policy decision-making. For instance, he was reluctant to acknowledge independence of the Baltic Republics until he could see "a few more cards on the table before we take another step" (August, 1991 - obtained from His involvement in 'Operation Desert Storm' after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait was perceived as his personal defensive reaction Hussein's occupation of Kuwait represented to his presidency and naturally, the danger this conflict posed to US oil interests in the region.

The United States has had a volatile and unsteady relationship with Iran. Throughout decades, US presidents have been responsible for this instability and each individual personality has affected the policy decision-making, shaping both countries' relationship. At the beginning of the Cold War the Truman administration adopted a 'policy of containment' to prevent the Soviet Union from expanding which resulted in the US's involvement (Sick, 1986). Relations were well-maintained given the US had oil interests in the region. In 1972, after Nixon applied the 'Nixon Doctrine', relations with Iran's government were stable and enhanced. Throughout Carter's presidency however, affairs began to change. In 1977, Carter focused his political idealism on promoting respect for human rights. Although he used human rights as his central foreign policy; given the US's vital interests, he did not induce or achieve authority on Iran, which abused human rights. Iran's population displayed dissatisfaction and restlessness with rising corruption and a growing gap between the rich and the poor. This led to a significant social unrest. Khomeini, a religious opposition leader, directed revolutionary protests and activities gaining public support. Carter believed rising instability from the opposition would affect US interests, yet continued to support Shah's leadership. An anti-American feeling spread throughout Iran and opposition grew considerably. In 1993, Clinton's administration compelled minimal relations with Iran, prohibiting trade and investment between US firms and Iran. He also believed Iran possessed nuclear weapons and mass-destruction weapons which could threaten the position of the US. As presented, a president's personality can affect the quality of decision-making, whether under stress, an unstable political environment or popularity among states. Nowadays, US relations with Iran continue to be uncertain and fail to a diplomatic agreement about the possession of nuclear weapons. It is a widely contested issue which is still yet to be resolved. This reflects personality is a key factor in international relations and the implementation of foreign policies.


It is true that social scientists cannot make an explanatory theory that will predict the discrete behaviour of one person in a given situation. There is not a single theory - totalitarian system needs, classical realism, or psychological - that can ever be taken as an absolute and exclusive reason behind the actions of the Soviet Union under Stalin, the presidency of George Bush, American governors, (CASE STUDIES) greater attention to the greater depth and texture of attributes going into the political processes will produce better, more complex explanations. Some political scientists may argue that variables such as personality characteristics barely have pragmatic explanations to contribute to our understanding of political processes and outcomes. There is no explanatory theory to assess an individual's personality. Conversely, others argue that Q-methodology is well-suited to the study of personality and politics by offering a qualitative assessment of reliability of personality profiles.

Both future policy-makers and students of government require the most complete understanding of the past in order to deal with the future.


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