Date of Graduation

Fall 2010


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Keith Payne


This paper examines variations in the human mind and how they can affect foreign leaders in their decision-making processes. Today, the United States can no longer predict the behavior of its adversaries and allies with the confidence it had during the Cold War. Major changes in the security environment have created novel threats and challenges. As new leaders and groups emerge, the U.S. is responsible for creating strategies and policies to prevent war and preserve the peace. This paper outlines how at any given moment, an individual can be influenced by a succession of internal and external factors. There is no substitute for possessing knowledge of a foreign leader's values, ideologies, health, mind-set, and behavior style. Group dynamics and strategic culture will add to the uncertainty of this paradigm. Investing more resources into personality profiling to consider these variations can aid policymakers in their assessments. These profiles can translate behavior so policymakers understand that a foreign leader's decisions are rational to the extent that they lead towards their goals. Nonetheless, it may be that U.S. policymakers must accept operating in an environment of significant uncertainty.


foreign leaders, decision-making, foreign policy, profiling, psychology

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Melissa Nichole Halik

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