Peer-Reviewed Articles: 

Harden, John P. "Looking Like a Winner: Leader Narcissism and Wartime Decision-Making." Journal of Conflict Resolution (2023).

Abstract: Can an individual impact a phenomenon as overwhelming and complex as war? Do leaders impact interstate war dynamics? Leaders high in grandiose narcissism focus their efforts on maintaining their inflated self-image during war by striving desperately for victory. While most leaders sacrifice their historical image for state interests, more narcissistic leaders only exit wars if they “win”, or overcome threats to their self-image. Narcissists essentially ignore revealed information and create deadlock to avoid looking like losers. In other words, narcissistic leaders encourage us to look beyond traditional rationalist models of wartime dynamics. This paper analyzes United States’ interstate war duration from 1897 to 2007 and finds support for the argument that more narcissistic United States presidents extend war duration. This paper also compares Eisenhower’s handling of the Korean War and Nixon’s handling of the Vietnam War as an illustrative probe of causal mechanisms. 

Harden, John P. "All the World’s a Stage: US Presidential Narcissism and International Conflict." International Studies Quarterly (2021).  

Abstract: How do leaders matter? What do leaders want? Grandiose narcissism provides a pathway to understanding how personality can impact a leader’s preference formation and foreign policy behavior. More narcissistic leaders will focus their efforts on maintaining their inflated self-image by selecting how they will fight on the world stage and who they will fight against. While most leaders will divert attention to easier won battles, more narcissistic leaders will prefer to fight against high-status states by themselves. This article introduces a new measure of US’ presidential narcissism, and finds support for the argument that more narcissistic US presidents prefer unilaterally initiating Great Power disputes using data from 1897–2008. A brief review of Theodore Roosevelt’s handling of the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903 is used as a plausibility probe of the theory’s causal mechanisms. 


Harden, John P. and Andrew Goodhart. "Reactionaries, and Relatability: How Russia Raises Support for its Foreign Policy Among US Conservatives by Signaling Similarity."

Abstract: There is widespread concern that Russian propaganda undermines the democratic discourse in the United States. The last ten years have also seen a notable partisan divergence in foreign policy views as Republicans become less hawkish toward Russia. This is occurring as the Russian government tries to promote Russian foreign policy in terms that appeal to these conservative audiences. To date, no study has tested the effect Russian propaganda has on conservative Americans' support for Russian foreign policy. We use a survey experiment to test the receptivity of conservative Americans to two types of Russian propaganda: messages that activate culture war issues and messages that exploit the psychological needs of narcissists.

Harden, John P. and Brunell, Amy. "Self-Absorption During an Emerging Crisis: Exploring the Multi-Faceted Effects of Narcissism during the Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic."

Abstract: When a crisis emerges, communities must work together. Collaboration occurs through a combination of bottom-up cooperative decisions made by everyday people, and top-down stewardship of cooperation by effective leaders. How does narcissism, a multi-faceted personality trait marked by self-absorption, impact public attitudes and behavior during the beginning of a crisis? This paper explores this question through a two-part survey administered to the US public in May 2020. At the time the survey was administered, many Americans were in lock-down, masks were not readily available, and debates were beginning over whether individuals should be allowed to return to in-person school and work. US President Donald Trump, and his administration, provided unclear guidelines, stepped away from nationally mandated protections, and downplayed the seriousness of the virus. Meanwhile, some members of the public ignored or openly violated recommended safety protocols. First, we examined how narcissists in the public approached COVID-19 through questions about COVID-19 attitudes and preferences. Second, we investigated whether co-partisan elite cues could counter the impact that narcissistic President Donald Trump’s messaging had on Americans’ willingness to socially distance. Our results indicate that narcissism is an important factor to consider when a crisis emerges, and that co-partisan cues countering a narcissistic leader’s myopic approach to a crisis can raise public confidence and increase public intentions to embrace pro-social policies.

Working Papers/Work-in-Progress:

Harden, John P.  ""I Just Want You to Think Big!": Narcissistic Leaders, Inflated Self-Image Maintenance, and Inconsistent Nuclear Weapons Policy."

Harden, John P.  "Additional Standards on the Horizon?: Queer Leaders, Stereotyping, and International Crisis Behavior."

Harden, John P.  "The Push and Pull of Depression and Anxiety: Declining Mental Health and Grand Strategy Incoherence."

Harden, John P.  "Attachment as Strategy: Attribution in International Relations"

Harden, John P.  "Breaking the Rules: Who Violates International Norms and When?"