Traits & Talks : Lessons about Personality and Deliberation from the Negotiations between Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk
Abstract: Compelling research in political psychology and personality psychology points to the significance of personality as a determinant of political behavior. Within a comprehensive framework for the study of personality in politics, the so-called Five-level Model (FLM), this thesis primarily focuses on the level of personality traits, where the well-established Five-factor model (the ‘Big Five’) is applied.Specifically, the objective is to examine the role of personality in deliberation. The current trend in research on deliberation is to take a systemic, institutional perspective. In contrast, the argument here is that a comprehensive examination of the individual level is suitable if we want to counteract the ongoing ‘concept stretching’ of deliberation.A Deliberative Behavioral Repertoire (DBR) is compiled consisting of four distinct behavioral expectations on deliberative participants (reason-giving, inner moral reasoning, open-mindedness and respect for others) and suggested as a functional approach to measuring and evaluating deliberative processes on an individual level of analysis.While the DBR is an approximation of deliberative conduct, it remains silent on the matter of personality. In order to determine the role of personality in deliberative conduct, the DBR is linked to the five factors. In a secondary analysis, a set of hypotheses on the links between the DBR and the five factors (drawing on both trait and facet levels) is proposed for empirical validation. The analysis ends with a presentation of a personality profile of the ’genuine’ deliberator, which evokes a discussion on normative, conceptual and empirical implications of bringing personality into the study of deliberation.Empirically, the peace negotiations in South Africa, 1989-94, between Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk, are used to substantiate the impact of personality in deliberation. This crucial case of naturally occurring political-leadership deliberation is explored in depth. Based on the two leaders’ personality profile – assessed in a qualitative analysis of each leader’s behavior evident across situations and over time – it is demonstrated how deliberative features of the negotiations are linked to vital personality attributes of the leaders. Through this close scrutiny of how personality might influence negotiation processes and outcomes, the study also contributes to the broader field of negotiation research.
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