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Keywords:

  • Operational code;
  • cognitive complexity;
  • context effects;
  • source effects

The symposium papers show that differences in sources and context clearly matter in the ‘at-a-distance’ assessment of a leader's psychological characteristics. The stability of both cognitive and personality attributes decreases as observations focus on shorter time frames, more spec fic policy domains, and private rather than public arenas. Despite these qualifications on the use of texts to profile individual leaders, the indices of social cognition and personality do discriminate individual differences between leaders. Because the results reveal significant differences in assessing individual leaders over time with multiple sources and at different levels of analysis, it becomes more worthwhile to investigate research questions that would be moot in the absence of important source, context, or aggregation effects. With the use of automated content analysis and greater access to data from electronic sources, it is now easier to carry out quantitative content analyses of psychological characteristics and to confirm or qualify the insights generated in this symposium.