Prof. Renshon is coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Program in the Psychology of Social and Political behavior. He received his Ph.D. In Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972, and was a NIMH postdoctoral fellow in Psychology and Politics at Yale University.
He did his graduate work in Clinical Psychology at Long Island University, and his psychoanalytic training at the Training and Research Institute for Self Psychology, where he received his certification in 1991.
He is the author of over one hundred articles in the fields of presidential politics, American immigration and national identity, American foreign policy, leadership and political psychology. He has also published fifteen books including: Psychological Needs and Political Behavior (Free Press),The Handbook of Political Socialization: Theory and Research (Free Press), The Political Psychology of the Gulf War (University of Pittsburgh Press), The Clinton Presidency: Campaigning, Governing and the Psychology of Leadership (Westview Press); The Psychological Assessment of Presidential Candidates (New York University Press, 1996, updated paperback edition,1998 Routledge Press), (edited with John Duckitt) Political Psychology: Cultural and Cross-cultural Foundations (Macmillan, 2000), One America?: Political Leadership, National Identity, and the Dilemmas of Diversity (Georgetown University Press, 2001); America’s Second Civil War: Political Leadership in a Divided Society (Transaction 2002), (edited with Deborah Larson) Good Judgment in Foreign Policy: Theory and Research (Rowman and Littlefield 2002); In his Father’s Shadow: The Transformations of George W. Bush (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2004); The 50% American: National Identity in a Dangerous Age (2005), Noncitizen Voting and American Democracy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009); (edited with Peter Suedfeld)Understanding the Bush Doctrine: Psychology and Strategy in an Age of Terrorism (Routledge, 2007); and National Security in the Obama Administration: Reassessing the Bush Doctrine (Routledge, 2010).
His book on the Clinton presidency, High Hopes: The Clinton Presidency and the Politics of Ambition (New York University Press, 1996, updated paperback edition,1998 Routledge Press) won the 1997 American Political Science Association’s Richard E. Neustadt Award for the best book published on the presidency and was also awarded the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis’ Gradiva Award for the best published work in the category of biography in 1998. He was elected president of the International Society of Political Psychology for the 2003/04 academic year and in 2006 won the award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative works.
His newest book Barack Obama and the Politics of Redemption was published by Routledge Press in 2012.
Every new president raises many questions and Barack Obama possibly raises more than most. Two years into his presidency debate continues about whether he can be a pragmatic centrist or whether his politics of hope and transformation will ultimately flounder on the rocky shoals of America’s deep political divisions. What of his leadership style? Has the uncommonly calm character he demonstrated on the campaign trail kept him from making an essential emotional connection with the American public? Obama took office with extraordinarily high expectations and a palpable hunger in the American psyche for a new national direction. Inflated expectations, however, are often a recipe for disappointment, as the midterm elections seemed to demonstrate.
Based on extensive biographical, psychological, and political research and analysis, noted political psychologist Stanley Renshon follows Obama’s presidency through his first two years in office. He digs into the question of who is the real Obama and assesses the advantages and limitations that he brings to the presidency. These questions cannot be answered without recourse to psychological analysis. And they cannot be answered without psychological knowledge of presidential leadership and the presidency itself. Renshon explains that underlying Obama’s ambition lies a need for redemption—of himself, of his parents, and ultimately of America itself.
Stanley Renshon, Noncitizen Voting and American Democracy (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, June 1, 2009)
Continuing large-scale migration to the United States raises the question of how best to integrate new immigrants into the American national community. Traditionally, one successful answer has been to encourage immigrants to learn our language, culture, history, and civic traditions. New immigrants would then be invited become citizens and welcomed as full members of the community.
However, a concerted effort is underway to gain acceptance for, and implement, the idea that the United States should allow new immigrants to vote without becoming citizens. It is mounted by an alliance that brings together progressive academics, law professors, local and state political leaders, and community activists, all working to decouple voting from American citizenship. Their effort show signs of success, but is it really in America’s best interests to allow new immigrants to have the vote? Their proposals have been much advocated, but little analyzed.
This book provides an analysis of the arguments put forward by advocates of this position on the basis of fairness, increasing democracy, civic learning, and moral necessity and asks: Do they really help immigrants become Americans?
Stanley Renshon, National Security in the Obama Administration: Reassessing the Bush Doctrine (New York: Routledge, September 8, 2009)
The Bush Doctrine is dead! At least that’s what critics hope. But while new U.S. national security challenges emerge, many post–9/11 threats still persist and the policies of George W. Bush offer one set of strategic answers for how President Obama can confront those dangers. Neither a polemic nor a whitewash, this book provides a careful analysis of the Bush Doctrine—its development, application, and rationale—and assesses its legacy: How will Obama respond to the many foreign policy challenges that await him?
Through an examination of psychology as much as policy, this book is the first comparative analysis of the Bush Doctrine and the developing Obama Doctrine, analyzes the range of national security issues Obama will face and the political divisions that permeate U.S. national security debates. It is essential reading for anyone looking to understand how presidents assess security risks generally and how Obama specifically is likely to adapt the Bush Doctrine to his own worldview.
Stanley Renshon and Peter Suedfeld, Understanding the Bush Doctrine : Psychology and Strategy in an Age of Terrorism (Routledge, 2007).
In Understanding the Bush Doctrine: Psychology and Strategy in the Age of Terrorism leading scholars of U.S. foreign policy, international relations, and political psychology examine one of the most consequential and controversial statements of national security policy in contemporary American history. Unlike other books which focus only on unilateralism or preventive war, volume provides a comprehensive frame work with which to analyze the Bush Doctrine by identifying five central and interrelated elements of the doctrine-American preeminence, assertive realism, strategic stand-apart alliances, selective multilateralism, and democratic transformation. The essays in the volume examine the Doctrine in terms of these five key elements.
Give its centrality to American national security, and the fact the effects of it are likely to be felt well into the 21st century, Understanding the Bush Doctrine will provide a critically balanced and pointed assessment of the Bush Doctrine and its premises, as well as a fair appraisal of its implications and prospects
The United States is the only nation in the world that allows its citizens to hold one or more foreign citizenships, vote in another nation’s elections, run for or be appointed to office in another country, and join the armed forces even of a nation with interests hostile to those of the U.S. while retaining their citizenship. These policies reinforce the often already strong emotional, political, and economic ties today’s immigrants retain to their home countries. Yet few studies have addressed what dual citizenship means for the United States as a nation and the integration of immigrants into the American national community. Is it possible to reconcile two different nationalities, cultures, and psychologies? How can we honor immigrants’ sense of identity without threatening American national identity? What do Americans have a right to expect of immigrants and what do they have a right to expect of Americans?
In The 50% American political psychologist Stanley Renshon offers some insights into the political and national ramifications of personal loyalties. Arguing that the glue that binds this country together is a psychological force—patriotism— he explains why powerful emotional attachments are critical to American civic process and how they make possible united action in times of crisis. In an age of terrorism, the idea that we are all Americans regardless of our differences is more than a credo; it is essential to our national security. Comprehensive in scope, this book examines recent immigration trends, tracing the assimilation process that immigrants to the United States undergo and describing how federal, state, and local governments have dealt with volatile issues such as language requirements, voting rights, and schooling. Renshon turns a critical eye to the challenges posed over the past four decades by multiculturalism, cultural conflict, and global citizenship and puts forth a comprehensive proposal for reforming dual citizenship and helping immigrants and citizens alike become more integrated into the American national community.
Stanley Renshon, In His Father’s Shadow: The Transformations of George W. Bush (New York : Palgave/Macmillan, 2004).
From a pampered son who showed little promise, to his rise to the presidency, George W. Bush has transformed himself through acts of will and faith. This book examines the psychological transformation of Mr. Bush and identifies the pivotal changes that allowed him to achieve success in his personal life and in the political arena, and shows how Bush’s personal transformation has come to shape his political policies. Those four transformations define both his biographical psychology and his leadership psychology.
The 1 st transformation is of GWB from a relatively immature and unfocused adolescent, a somewhat aimless young adult, and a relatively unsuccessful middle- aged man to a maturing man whose purpose and skills have picked up warp speed in the last decade of his life.
The 2 nd transformation is as president before and after nine-eleven. Contrary to the arguments of Karl Rove, I think 9-11 did have a profound effect on GWB—not to mention of course his presidency. He went from having a purpose to having a mission.
The 3rd transformation is the Bush administration’s ambition to transform American domestic politics from a left center to a right- center policy paradigm. And the 4 th transformation is of American’s place and role in the world. Nine-eleven profoundly changed the international calculus, and America ‘s stance toward it, at least for the Bush Administration.
The man who battled–and defeated–his own inner demons has become a president determined to battle the demons of terrorism and extremism that prevent democracy from flourishing around the world. This psychological portrait provides an assessment of both the president’s psychology and leadership and his prospects as a transformational leader.
Stanley Renshon and Deborah Welch Larson eds., Good Judgment in Foreign Policy: Theory and Application (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003).
At the heart of political leadership lies choice. And at the heart of choice lies judgment. A leader’s psychology and experience intersect with political realities to produce consequences that can make or break a leader–or a country. Nowhere is judgment more important than in the making of foreign policy. Good judgments can avoid wars, or win them. Poor judgments can start wars or lose them. This book draws together a distinguished group of contributors–psychologists, political scientists, and policymakers–to focus on and understand both good and poor judgment in foreign policy making. Case studies of key leadership decisions combine with theoretical overviews and analyses to offer a highly textured portrait of judgment in action in the all-important foreign policy arena. An up-to-the-minute case on George W. Bush and the war on terrorism applies good judgment theory to contemporary events.
With enormous numbers of new immigrants, America is becoming dramatically more diverse racially, culturally, and ethnically. As a result, the United States faces questions that have profound consequences for its future. What does it mean to be an American? Is a new American identity developing? At the same time, the coherence of national culture has been challenged by the expansion of—and attacks on—individual and group rights, and by political leaders who prefer to finesse rather than engage cultural controversies. Many of the ideals on which the country was founded are under intense, often angry, debate, and the historic tension between individuality and community has never been felt so keenly.
In One America?,distinguished contributors discuss the role of national leadership, especially the presidency, at a time when a fragmented and dysfunctional national identity has become a real possibility. Holding political views that encompass the thoughtful left and right of center, they address fundamental issues such as affirmative action, presidential engagement in questions of race, dual citizenship, interracial relationships, and English as the basic language.
This book is the first examination of the role of national political leaders in maintaining or dissipating America’s national identity. It will be vital reading for political scientists, historians, policymakers, students, and anyone concerned with the future of American politics and society.
America has always taken a coherent national identity for granted. In recent decades that assumption has been challanged. Individual and group rights have expanded, eliciting acerbic debate about the legitimacy and limits of claims. National political leaders have preferred to finesse rather engage these controversies. At the same time, large numbers of new immigrants have dramatically made the United States more racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse. As a result this country faces critical political and cultural questions. What does it mean to be an American? What, if anything, binds our country and citizens together? Is a “new American identity” developing, and if so, what is it? Can political leaders help us answer these questions?
For the second time in the history of the United States another civil war looms. Tthe new danger lies in conflicts among people of different racial, cultural, and ethnic heritages, and between those who view themselves as culturally, politically, and economically disadvantaged versus those whom they see as privileged. Unlike the first Civil War, the antagonists cannot take refuge in their family or their religious, social, cultural or political organizations. These are the precisely the places were the war is being fought. At issue is whether it is possible or desirable to preserve the strengths of a common heritage. Some quarters insist that our past has resulted in a culture only worth tearing down to build over, rather than one worth keeping and building upon. We are in conflict over the viability of American culture and identity itself.
This volume is organized into a series of intellectually grounded but provocative chapters on political leadership, the 2000 presidential campaign. Immigration, affirmative action, and other contemporary social and political issues. Renshon uses the perspective of political psychology to help us to see old issues in new ways, and new issues in different ways. His critical question are the impact of immigration on American common values, national identity, and politics. America’s Second Civil War examines issues likely to be at the forefront of American politics, culture, and social debate in the new millennium. Intelligently written and intended for a wide audience, it will be of interest to political scientists and students of American politics as well as the general public.
Relationships of culture and political psychology shape a wide range of important contemporary political issues. The distinguished contributors to this book make use of diverse theories of psychology, informed by a broadly comparable understanding of the nature of culture. The book is an important landmark in developing the field of political psychology, developing insights from psychological anthropologists, political scientists and crosscultural psychologists. Critical contemporary social, political and cultural issues of ethnic and crosscultural conflict around the world are crying out for theories making use of the powerful lens of culture along with other refractory frameworks.
Stanley Renshon, The Psychological Assessment of Presidential Candidates (New York: New York Univ. Press, 1996).
While there is increasing public awareness that the psychology, judgment, and leadership qualities of presidential candidates count, the basis on which these judgments should be made remains unclear. Does it matter that Gary Hart changed his name or had an affair? Should Ed Muskie’s loss of composure while defending his wife during a campaign speech, or Thomas Eagleton’s hospitalization for depression, have counted against them? Looking back over the past twenty-five years, Stanley A. Renshon, a political scientist and psychoanalyst, provides the first comprehensive accounting of how character has become an increasingly important issue in a presidential campaign. He traces two related but distinctive approaches to the issue of presidential character and psychology. The first concerns the “mental health” of our candidates and presidents. Are they emotionally and personally stable? Is their temperament suitable for the presidency? The second concerns character. Is the candidate honest? Does he possess the necessary judgment and motivation to deal with tremendous responsibilities and pressures of the office? Drawing on his clinical and political science training, Renshon has devised a theory which will allow the public to better evaluate presidential candidates. Why are honesty, integrity, and personal ideals so important in judging candidates? Is personal and political ambition necessarily a bad trait? Do extramarital affairs really matter? Finally, and most importantly, how can the public tell whether a candidate’s leadership will be enhanced or impeded by aspects of his personality?
In this perceptive psychological portrait of Clinton and his Presidency, Stanley A. Renshon investigates whether Clinton has demonstrated the requisite qualities of judgment, vision, character, and skill to meet the daunting challenges he faces domestically and internationally. Renshon incisively analyzes Clinton’s sweeping ambitions, his enormous confidence in himself and his goals, and his success in convincing people that he genuinely cares about them. He reveals a Bill Clinton whose capacity for political success is often undermined by the very traits for which many praise him. His unusually high self-confidence, for instance, leads him to believe that he, as a “New Democrat,” can accomplish what others have not, that he can, for instance, reconcile polar opposites such as liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans. Remarkably persistent throughout Clinton’s career are certain traits that have defined him to the public — his tendency to make promises he cannot keep, his uneven political performance, his ability to win people over in person, his sudden bursts of anger. Renshon traces the development of Clinton’s character from his early family experiences to his highly successful adolescence and long political career. He illustrates how each step along the way Clinton’s inconsistent experiences as an adored but disregarded child; his attempt to avoid the draft and the consequences of doing so; his marriage to Hillary Rodham, whose own psychology has both helped and hurt him; and his tenure as governor during which his character first became a political issue — is crucial to understanding his erratic and controversial presidency. Exploring the nature of the Clinton marriage as a political partnership and of Hillary Clinton as an “associate president,” this is the first serious psychological examination of Clinton, the man and the President.
Stanley Renshon, The Clinton Presidency: Campaigning, Governing, and the Psychology of Leadership (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995).
Stanley Renshon brings together a collection of compelling analyses of the Clinton presidency. Beginning with the 1992 election campaign, the contributors explore the interplay between U.S. presidents and the public they serve. Clinton’s specific strengths and weaknesses, the tools he relies on, and his most important opportunities are revealed in this dynamic psychological portrait.
Stanley Renshon ed., Political Psychology of the Gulf War: Leaders, Publics, and the Process of Conflict (Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1993).
This fascinating book explores the political psychology behind the invasion, conquest and annexation of Kuwait by Iraq in the summer of 1990 and the subsequent United States-led war of 1991. What motivated the major actors to do what they did? What elements went into the decisions that were made, and how adequate were these decisions? Essays by a broad array of academic experts address these and other questions from diverse perspectives. In the first part of the book, on the war’s psychological origins, L. Carl Brown examines the “Arab collective self-image” and its role in the war. Part two focuses on George Bush and Saddam Hussein, including analyses of Bush’s tendency to lash back aggressively when challenged and Hussein’s need to best his traditional political rival, President Assad of Syria. Other sections focus on the unfolding of the Gulf War and the role of the media, and the ways in which the populations in the U.S. and the Middle East both affected and were affected by the process of conflict. This book vividly illustrates how both personal and group psychology interact with the contexts in which decisions are made. It also underscores the fact that political contexts are themselves psychological. Renshon edits the journal Political Psychology.
Stanley Renshon, Handbook of Political Socialization: Theory and Research (New York: The Free Press, 1977).
What is learned in political socialization—political attitudes, general attitudes? When does political learning take place? How does learning occur-what are the agencies of impact and how do they operate? What are the consequences of political socialization?
These are some of the fundamental questions raised and discussed in this carefully structured, wide-ranging collection of incisive essays for the professional or student interested in how individuals acquire their political orientations. Handbook of Political Socialization offers lucid explanations and probing analyses of major theories, concepts, findings, and implications in the field. In fifteen chapters, a distinguished group of contributors focuses on different aspects of political socialization; they often use illustrations from comparative studies as they provide insight into new approaches, concepts and methodologies.
Part 1: introduces and develops the basic framework upon which further discussion of theory, research, and methodology depends.
Part II:considers the ongoing process of political socialization through the life cycle as this process is influenced and shaped by various agents.
Part III: discusses the outcomes of the political socialization process in relation to such factors as moral development, political values, and political activism.
Part IV: looks at the future in proposing possible directions for further study in political socialization.
A distinctive feature of this volume is the inclusion of chapter on such often neglected topics as methodology, mass communications, adult socialization, and the policy implications of political socialization research. The important concept of political learning through the life cycle receives special attention.
Stanley Renshon , Psycological Needs and Political Behavior (New York: The Free Press, 1974).
What makes a person participate in the political system? Psychological Needs and Political Behavior exams the problems of why, under what circumstances, and with what consequences citizens take part in politics. It provides a systematic theory of the linkage between basic human needs and political behavior.
The major theme of the book is that the motivation to participate in politics originates in the need for personal control. According to Renshon, each person has within him a basic need to gain control over his physical and psychological life space. When the individual’s life space includes the political system, then the link is forged between a need for personal control and its outplay in political life. Renshon not only proposes a motivational need based on this particular need, but goes on to detail the ways in which this need is structured by the social environment.
This book traces the development of the need for personal control. Beginning with its psychological origin in childhood socialization experiences, it follows the political implications in the individual’s selection of later political behaviors. Renshon studies the need motivation to participate, the political action selected, and the degree of satisfaction obtained in the actual arena of political activities.
Of interest to both political scientists and psychologists Psychological Needs and Political Behavior makes a creative breakthrough toward explaining politics in terms of basic human motivations.