Citizens of U.S. have long been fascinated by the personal characteristics of their presidents. Conventional wisdom holds that having an attractive, forceful personality is of great importance in getting elected to public office in the United States, particularly at the highest levels.
#Psychologist David Winter has analyzed and profiled the U.S. presidents in psychological terms. Winter examined each president’s first inaugural address in order to determine his underlying “motive imagery.” Specifically, Winter analyzed these speeches for indications of three important motives that, as research shows, are strongly related to identifiable personal characteristics and behaviors. These underlying motives and the personal characteristics they are commonly associated with are:
- The achievement motive-a concern for excellence associated with
moderate risk taking, using feedback, and entrepreneurial success;
- The affiliation motive-a concern for close relations with others
associated with interpersonal warmth, self-disclosure, and good
overall adaptation to life; and
- The power motive–a concern for impact and prestige associated
with getting formal social power and also impulsive actions, such as aggression, drinking, and taking extreme risks.
Winter then compared these psychological profiles to motive imagery profiles
of society as a whole during each president’s term of office.
In addition, beperformance while in office and his leadership appeal. The performance assess examined the relationship of each president’s personal characteristics with his
cabinet nominees, percentage of vetoes overridden, and consensus of “greatness
ment was based on a number of indicators, including Senate rejection of court and
by historians. Leadership appeal was measured by such things as margin of victory
in elections, whether the president was reelected, and so on.
Winter drew two major conclusions of interest from these comparisons.
First the president’s leader appeal or “electability” is very much a function of his fi
with society (the situation). That is, how well his motive profile matched those of
U.S. citizens at the time. However, the president’s performance while in office
depended on his personal characteristics and was not related to a match between
motive profiles of the president and society.