Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Yassir Arafat: Behavioral and Strategic Analysis

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Yassir Arafat: Behavioral and Strategic Analysis

Article excerpt

This paper is a behavioral and strategic analysis of Palestinian Chairman, Yassir Arafat. The research is qualitatively compiled, using broad samples of behavior, referring to thoughts, feelings, and actions that have been reported in the media over a long period of time and in different situations. The method used is based upon data collection, classification into content categories and types of information, and analysis. The behavioral and strategic analysis emerged from 25 content categories, each of them describing patterns of behavior. The categories were divided into three major sections: (a) distinctive traits that characterize Yassir Arafat today ; (b) functional characteristics and leadership style; and (c) strategic analysis.

Keywords: Yassir Arafat, behavioral analysis, strategic analysis, leader personality.

The aim of this paper was to identify Palestinian Chairman, Yassir Arafat's salient patterns of behavior in order to reveal the following characteristics: distinctive traits, functional and leadership style, and strategic goals. The research is a qualitative content analysis methodology, called behavior analysis. The theoretical approach underlying the present study follows Maddi's (1989) perception of personality as "a stable set of tendencies and characteristics that determine those commonalties and differences in people's psychological behavior (thoughts, feelings, and actions) that have continuity in time and that may not be easily understood as the sole result of the social and biological pressures of the moment" (p. 9).

The personality characteristics of a leader, and the degree to which he/she influences the course of history, have been subjects of debate from time immemorial in various scientific disciplines. Despite criticism (e.g., Craik, 1986), however, the topic continues to occupy researchers, and many prominent political leaders have been the subject of psychological evaluations from a distance (see Feldman & Valenty, 2001; Valenty & Feldman, 2002).

A survey of the professional literature dealing with the psychological profiles, from a distance, of political leaders reveals two key methodologies. (1) Quantitative methodologies, such as historiometry (Simonton, 1990); integrated complexities of leaders' expressions (e.g., Suedfeld & Granatstein, 1995); operational coding of speeches and expressions (e.g., Schafer & Crichlow, 2000; Walker & Schafer, 2000); objective measurement of motivators (e.g., Dille & Young, 2000; Weintraub, 1989). (2) Qualitative methodologies, in which the investigators sketch a psychological profile based on diverse information (biographies, testimonies, newspaper articles, interviews in the media, etc.). These profiles are based on qualitative analysis of content and, to a certain degree, on the investigator's psychological intuition and interpretation (e.g., Dekleva & Post, 1997; Greenstein, 1994; Renshon, 1996). Yet other qualitative (as well as quantitative) research focuses on the identification and classification of the leaders' personality types (e.g., Barber, 1972; Hermann, 1994).

Behavioral analysis (Kimhi, 2001) comprises three steps: collection, classification, and analysis. This method is based on a wide range and different levels of behavior that have been reported publicly, in the form of thoughts, speeches, feelings, and actions that have continuity in time and situations. Thus, the basic assumption underlying the current research is that repeated patterns of a person's behavior (along time and situations) are relatively stable and can be, to some extent, a predictor of future behavior (Maddi, 1989).


The present study was based mainly on systematic collection of data collected from newspaper reports from inside and outside Israel, on previously published literature about Yassir Arafat, and books (mainly biographies: Colbin, 1994; Gowers, 1992; Hart, 1984; 1994; Rubinstein, 2001; Sayigh, 1997; Wallach, 1990). …

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