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. "Looking Like a Winner: Leader Narcissism and Wartime Decision-Making."
Abstract: How do leaders matter? Can leader-level attributes impact war duration? 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 during war by striving desperately for victory and evidence that they are capable and competent leaders. While most leaders will sacrifice their historical image for state interests, more narcissistic leaders will only exit wars if they "win", see a greater opportunity for their image elsewhere, or can reassure their re-election prospects. This paper analyzes United States' interstate war duration from 1897 to 2008 and finds support for the argument that more narcissistic United States presidents extend war duration. This paper also briefly compares Eisenhower's handling of the Korean War and Nixon's handling of the Vietnam War as an illustrative plausibility probe of causal mechanisms.
Harden, John P. "Saving Face: US Presidential Narcissism, Audiences, and Threats."
Abstract: When will democratically-elected leaders attempt to generate audience costs? During international crises, states can transmit costlier signals by issuing hand-tying public statements. Research has found that audience cost generating threats are useful during conflict. Despite the benefits of tying-hands, there is variation in how often states issue audience cost generating threats. Previous research has highlighted accountability mechanisms, and attributes endogenous to conflict, to explain when states will issue resolved public statements. However, leaders decide whether to issue these public statements. I argue that narcissists are less likely to issue public statements of resolve during conflict. While less narcissistic leaders focus on enhancing bargaining leverage, narcissists focus on personal gains: namely political capital and self-image. A brief survey of Theodore Roosevelt's behavior across two crises, and aggregate analysis of data from 1950-2008 support the claim that leader-level grandiose narcissism is negatively related to issuing public statements of resolve.
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. "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."