Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin | 2019

Developing a Measure of Generative Historical Consciousness From Political Leaders’ Speeches



The desire for power causes wars, oppression, and destruction, yet power is a necessary dimension of all human enterprises. Therefore, taming power is a central moral and political problem in the social sciences and humanities, as well as politics and religion. This article reports development of a content analysis measure that differentiates expressions of “tamed” and “untamed” power, based on the theoretical concept of generative historical consciousness (GHC). We describe the GHC concept and measure and report results from four studies establishing their validity in differentiating expressions of tamed versus untamed power. The first study uses matched pairs of world leaders’ texts on various political themes—for example, crisis escalation versus détente, vengeance versus reconstruction, and treatment of minority groups. Two case studies compare texts from different career- and life-stages of Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela. A final study compares two speeches about the Middle East by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Volume 45
Pages 1338 - 1351
DOI 10.1177/0146167218823043
Language English
Journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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