This Independent Study seeks to understand how personality affects presidential decision-making. Specifically, I research the role of personality and how it affects a president’s ability to accept defeat during a deteriorating military engagement. Based upon a review of the literature, I begin to develop the argument that the personality of a president, their judgment, and the situational factors they face are distinct variables affecting the presidential decision-making process. Utilizing a comparative case study design, I test my hypothesis that personality combined with judgment and situational factors determines the ability of a president to accept defeat and respond appropriately. I offer two presidential biographies, the corresponding narratives of the decision-making processes for military engagements, and an analysis of the effectiveness of my theory within each case. I then provide a comparative analysis between the two cases: George W. Bush and the Iraq War and Barack Obama and the Afghanistan War. I conclude that personality does influence judgment and then in turn does substantially affect the ability to accept defeat and accurately respond. My Independent Study provides a greater understanding of how personality, a complex variable that is often not appreciated and accounted for in its fullness, affects decision-making, and specifically, the ability to accept defeat.


Moskowitz, Eric


Political Science

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Brigid E. O'Hara