Henry Kissinger's implicit theory of personality: A quantitative case study


  • For their suggestions, help and encouragement, we wish to thank Michael Borello, Kenneth Craik, William Meredith, Craig Peerenboom, Christa Peters, Beth Prather, Pat Stewart, Barbara Lester Swede, Howard Terry, and John Tisak of the Department of Psychology, and Richard McIntosh and Brad Palmquist of the Computer-assisted Survey Methods Program at the University of California, Berkeley

Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr Philip E Tetlock, Institute of Personality Assessment and Research, 3657 Tolman Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720


Rosenberg and Jones' (1972) methodology for extracting personality descriptions from archival materials was adapted to study Henry Kissinger's perceptions of political leaders Content analysis of Kissinger's White House Years yielded 3,759 trait descriptions of 38 salient leaders To discover how Kissinger organized his trait descriptions, the co-occurrences among the 106 most frequently used trait categories were analyzed by (1) principal components analysis of tetrachoric correlations, (2) cluster analysis of Euclidean distances, and (3) nonmetric multidimensional scaling of profile distances Across all three measures of association and grouping algorithms, five consistent personality themes emerged—“professional anguish,”“ambitious patriotism,”“revolutionary greatness,”“intellectual sophistication,” and “realistic friendship” Scales constructed for the five sets of traits had adequate alpha reliabilities The profiles of the five scales for each leader revealed systematic individual differences in leaders' perceived personalities Cluster analysis of these individual differences identified nine leader types Kissinger, Chou En-lai and Georges Pompidou were sufficiently distinctive to define separate leader types Other types included the Revolutionary, the Patriot, the Personal Friend, the Professional Friend, the Able Adversary and the Professional Competitor Implications for theory and future research were discussed