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policy, George W Bush administration, psychology


We will summarize the most systematic work on George W. Bush's psyche, stressing that leader personality traits should not be judged as good nor bad: Rather traits which match some situations mismatch others. SAT scores and other available measures indicate that Bush has sufficient intelligence to serve as president. Yet the best studies, in which raters evaluate statements without being aware of their source, suggest that Bush lacks integrative complexity and thus views issues without nuance (Thoemmes and Conway 2007). The leading personality theory (the “5-Factor Model”), as measured by the NEO Personality Inventory, suggests that Bush is highly extraverted but not very agreeable or conscientious. He also rates low on “Openness to Experience” (Rubenzer and Faschingbauer 2004). Similarly Immelman (2002) had expert raters judge Bush‟s personality using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria. Raters identified Bush as fitting the “Outgoing,” “Dominant (Controlling),” and “Dauntless” personality patterns, which together constitute a style given to lack of reflection, superficiality, and impulsivity. When compared to other presidents, Bush most closely resembles Jackson, Reagan, and Harding, but is very unlike his father, George H.W. Bush. We apply these findings to discussions of the President Bush's decision-making in the cases of his most notable success, education reform, and his most notable failure, the Iraq war. We argue that Bush's psychological predispositions were particularly noteworthy in the latter, in part since greater presidential power in foreign policy magnifies the impacts of leader personality.


Legal Studies Research Paper Number 09-42