Personality and Politics

Personality and Politics: Problems of Evidence, Inference, and Conceptualization

Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 246
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  • Book Info
    Personality and Politics
    Book Description:

    Fred Greenstein, an acknowledged authority in this field, lays out conceptual and methodological standards for carrying out personality-and politics inquiries, ranging from psychological case studies of single actors, through multi-case analyses of types of political actors, to aggregative analyses of the impact of individuals and types of individuals on political systems and processes.

    Originally published in 1987.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5847-7
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface to New Edition
    (pp. v-xxii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xxvii-xliv)

    Plagues, famines, and other disasters have the grim consequence of being good business for those who attend the injured and the dead. Similarly, occasions when political actors engage in bizarre or highly distinctive behavior serve to fuel the controversial but irrepressible endeavor of studying the connections between personality and politics.

    1974 provides just such an occasion. Writing shortly after the tortured, self-defeating behavior by Richard Nixon that led to his resignation as President of the United States, I must inevitably draw on topical illustrations from some of the extraordinary manifestations of political personality since this book originally appeared in 1969,...

    (pp. 1-32)

    3. The study of personality and politics is, in fact,nota thriving scholarly endeavor. A principal reason is that the scholars who study politics do not feel equipped to analyze personality in ways that meet their intellectual standards. Personality tends to remain the preserve of journalists. This is unfortunate, since what the student of politics leaves to the journalist is not only of frequent political importance, but also is complexly elusive—hence especially in need of the kind of reflective examination that appropriately equipped scholars can provide.

    4. The most fundamental item of scholarly equipment in this area consists...

  6. CHAPTER TWO: Objections to the Study of Personality and Politics
    (pp. 33-62)

    A bewildering variety of criticisms have been leveled at the heterogeneous literature on personality and politics. The criticism has been so profuse that there is considerable accuracy to the sardonic observation of David Riesman and Nathan Glazer that the field of culture-and-personality research, within which many of the past accounts of personality and politics fall, has “more critics . . . than practitioners.”¹ As we have seen, some of the criticisms are directed toward methodological difficulties of the existing research; but others are more fundamental, formal objections that would seem to apply even to methodologically sound inquiry. These objections typically...

  7. CHAPTER THREE: Psychological Analysis of Single Political Actors
    (pp. 63-93)

    The discussion in this and the next two chapters can be framed in terms of the following stripped-down and slightly relabeled version of M. Brewster Smith’s five-part map of types of variables that are relevant to the study of personality and politics:

    The political behavior of concern in this chapter is that of single political actors. Using the map, we can sketch in simplified form the kinds of intellectual operations that underlie the complex enterprise of analyzing a single actor psychologically. Our prime sources of observables in that enterprise are indicated in Panel IV on the immediate environmental antecedents of...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR: Psychological Analysis of Types of Political Actors
    (pp. 94-119)

    The process of abstracting common features from diverse individual phenomena and classifying thetypesof regularities that one confronts is possibly as fundamental as any aspect of cognitive functioning. Using the heading “folk taxonomies,” anthropologists have increasingly turned to examining the ways in which people classify the elements of their society and its environment; many of these anthropologists have concluded that this level of psychological functioning is more accessible and perhaps more revealing than the deeper emotional trends that preoccupied the earlier culture-and-personality investigators.¹ At one time, discussions of the uses of typology in everyday life especially emphasized the ways...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Aggregative Effects of Personality Characteristics on Political Systems
    (pp. 120-140)

    As we saw in Chapter One, analyses of single actors and of types of actors have aggregative implications. In speaking of “aggregation,” I refer not merely to what has sometimes been called aggregate psychology—namely, statistical summaries of observations that have been performed on some collection of individuals. In the real world, individuals and types aggregate into formally or informally organizedcollectivities. These range from informal, face-to-face interaction patterns all the way through the organizations and political patterns in the international arena. And, as it is commonly if rather loosely put, collectivities are not merely the sum of the individuals...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Concluding Remarks
    (pp. 141-153)

    There is a cyclical quality to work on personality and politics. One can point to a number of flurries of interest in these issues: to bodies of writings that began to emerge, enlisted the enthusiasm of some investigators and readers, and then became discredited, largely because of the failure to develop firm, communicable standards of inquiry. Work in this area has, to an excessive degree, been “stimulating” and “suggestive,” but “controversial” and “inconclusive.” Yet the subject matter, and the intellectual and practical needs to come to grips with it, are so compelling that each new generation produces its own political-personality...

  11. A Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 154-184)
  12. Author Index
    (pp. 185-190)
  13. Subject Index
    (pp. 191-200)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 201-201)