Peer-Reviewed Articles:

Harden, John P. "Looking Like a Winner: Leader Narcissism and Wartime Decision-Making." Journal of Conflict Resolution (2022/Early Access).

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.

Working Papers:

Harden, John P. and Brunell, Amy. "Narcissism, elite cues, and messaging about social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic."


How do elite cues, ideology, and personality impact the likelihood of adhering to public health guidelines during a crisis? In this study, participants completed narcissism measures and demographic information. They were then randomly assigned to one of three message conditions: one summarizing the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) social distancing recommendations, one pitting President Trump’s messaging about the economy against the CDC’s social distancing messaging, and one that pitted President Trump’s messaging about the economy against Ohio Governor DeWine’s messaging about prioritizing lives. Participants then answered questions about their attitudes and intentions about social distancing. Results revealed that study condition, political ideology, and narcissism predicted participants’ responses: a) liberals were more supportive of social distancing and expressed intentions to do so, b) those in the Trump versus DeWine condition were more likely to express intentions to socially distance compared to those in the CDC condition, and c) narcissism variables predicted different attitudes and intentions. More specifically, communal narcissists endorsed following social distancing guidelines only when they felt it was convenient to them. Vulnerable narcissists expressed having lower behavioral control over social distancing. Thus, communal, and vulnerable narcissists indicated that they only had intentions to social distance when they deemed it convenient. Grandiose narcissists recognized that others socially distance but reported they would do so only when convenient.

Harden, John P with Andrew Goodhart. "Exploiting Alienation and Culture Wars: How Foreign Authoritarians Build Support among the U.S. Populist Right-Wing."

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

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

Harden, John P. and Wisniewski, Erik "Tying Virtual Hands? Costly Signals in the Digital Age."