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Research Seminar | Breaking Bad: How Leaders' Personalities Change and the Consequences for Foreign Policies

Monday November 20, 2023, from 12:00 to 13:30
Room 24.120 (First Floor). Mercè Rodoreda 24 Building. UPF Ciutadella
Research seminar

Juliet Kaarbo (University of Edinburgh). ChairRobert Kissack (IBEI)

This presentation will examine how political leaders’ personalities change over the time that they rule and how this affects governance, policies and political outcomes. Focusing on negative developments -- leaders becoming more authoritarian, more distrustful, over-confident, the presentation will address two primary questions:  What are the main drivers behind ‘bad’ changes in leaders’ personalities and what are the effects of ‘breaking bad’? The presentation draws on an interactionist perspective on personality which examines how leaders are shaped by their context and how leaders, in turn, shape the environment around them. Building on research on ageing, experience, learning, and power effects, a framework and method will be presented for tracking how leaders change, in undesirable directions, in their personality characteristics, policymaking processes, and political outcomes. In addition to a general framework, the presentation will include discussion of two leaders: Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The paper is part of a larger research project supported by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship.

Juliet Kaarbo's research focuses on political psychology, leadership and decision making, group dynamics, foreign policy analysis, foreign policy roles, and parliaments and coalitions in foreign policy. Areas of specialization include German, British, Israeli, Dutch, Japanese, Turkish, and U.S. foreign policy. Her research has appeared in various journals, including International AffairsInternational Studies QuarterlyEuropean Journal of International Relations, British Journal of Politics and International Relations,  International Studies ReviewPolitical PsychologyCooperation and ConflictForeign Policy Analysis, and Leadership Quarterly. She has co-written multiple versions of two textbooks -- Global Politics and Foreign Policy in Comparative Perspective.