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


The College of Wooster, Independent Study, Presidential Personality

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Brigid E. O'Hara