A Cognitive-Psychodynamic Perspective to Understanding Secretary of State Cyrus Vance's Worldview



This article goes beyond traditional cognitive studies, many of which focus on the image of the enemy, by incorporating the role of “personality” in impression formation. Through the use of a cognitive-psychodynamic perspective, traditional categories in image studies are expanded to explain better Cyrus Vance's worldview during his tenure as secretary of state. Recognizing the complementary nature of personality and social cognition theories, the cognitive-psychodynamic perspective assesses key personality and motivational forces that provide the basis for the perceiver's reliance on category-based processes, stemming largely from emotionally connected experience, and data-driven processing. Accordingly, Vance's worldview can be understood in terms of three overlapping image categories: the complex-interdependent, the optimistic-détente, and the empathic, which emerge as major themes from public data. Shaped by sources such as the political trauma of the Vietnam War, his personal development is explored to ascertain the way key cognitive and personality dynamics influence his worldview.