Personality Characteristics of Individual Leaders–Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush

In class on Wednesday, we’ll be analyzing the individual level of analysis in international relations. Do individuals matter? In other words, do they have an effect independent of the state and systemic levels, or do individuals lie at the periphery of international relations? Margaret Hermann–a political psychologist–has found that that leaders can be characterized based on a host of personality characteristics. Some of these are nationalism, need for power, need for affiliation, distrust of others, etc. On the basis of a composite of these characteristics, Hermann believed that leaders were more likely to have one or the other of two foreign policy orientations–independent leader, participatory leader. Watch these two clips and think about how you would characterize Chávez’s and Bush’s foreign policy orientations, respectively.

The Global Perspectives box on p. 146 in Mingst, asks the following questions:

  1. Is it personality or policies that have made Chavez popular and powerful? Using Herman’s personality characteristics, how would you classify Chavez?
  2. How has the person of Chavez augmented the power of the Venezuelan state?

The same could be asked of President Bush:

  1. Is it personality or policies that have made President Bush popular and powerful? Using Herman’s personality characteristics, how would you classify Bush?
  2. How has the person of Bush augmented the power of the US state?
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