Traits & Talks: Lessons About Personality & Deliberation from the
Negotiations Between Nelson Madela & FW de Klerk


By Julia Jennstal
August 2012
Uppsala University
ISBN: 9789155483753
276 pages
$79.50 Paper original


This thesis asks the question of whether political behavior primarily is an effect of situation or personality. It claims that personality is a vital component in understanding individual political conduct.

The relevance of personality in politics is demonstrated within the field of deliberation. By analyzing personality differences through the well established 'Big Five' model, and assessing constellations effects of various personalities the thesis contributes to a more profound understanding of how fair, equal and legitimate decision-making can take place between individuals.

The relationship between deliberation and personality is further developed in an in-depth study of the leadership conduct during the South African peace negotiations 1989-94. Focusing on the chief negotiators, Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk, and their negotiation conduct, it is shown that vital personality attributes strengthened deliberation during the negotiation process. Through this close scrutiny of how personality might influence the process and outcome of negotiations, the thesis also contributes to the broader field of negotiation research.


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