• Ronald Reagan;
  • George Bush;
  • conceptual complexity;
  • operational code

This paper examines the spontaneous and prepared remarks of Presidents Reagan and Bush in the domain of U.S.-Soviet relations at the end of the Cold War. The findings suggest thatm researchers should be cautious when drawing their sample frames, because scores gleaned from prepared remarks may contain systematic differences large enough to affect the workings of models using at-a-distance measurements. However, if the leader is involved in the preparation of speeches he or she delivers, then these prepared speeches typically are as valid an indicator of the leader's psychological variables as are spontaneous remarks from interviews. Context effects may be present for both cognitive and personal variables in remarks from spontaneous and prepared statements. Impression management, therefore, may be a bigger problem than authorship in assessing leaders at a distance.