Trait Analysis

Trait Analysis

Having the ability to synthesize a vast amount of information into a succinct and logical explanation is a skill that when mastered can help one be successful in graduate school. Within the field of political psychology the literature is vast and robust so to aid in your understanding of this body of knowledge the second assignment in this course is a literature review. The purpose of this assignment is to help improve your understanding of theory building and methodology.

Literature review assignment: trait analysis


Your literature review must be developed using 10-15 or more scholarly sources, which should include the assigned readings covered during that week. For example, if you choose to write a literature review on week 3?s topic of operational code analysis your literature review would not only include the literature assigned in class but other key scholarly works that discuss and utilize operational code within their study. Within each week there are a number of recommended readings that would serve as an excellent starting point to kick start your research (you should keep in mind that not all of these are available within the online library as this recommended list is simply a list of accumulated knowledge, not knowledge housed within the online library). Regardless of your topic of choice you should conduct an article search within the online library within EBSCO and JStor database, and also conduct a book search to help you develop your literature review.


The goal of this literature review is to demonstrate the scope of knowledge that is available on these key topic areas. As such a good literature review is a thoughtful synthesis of important information that pertains to the topic at hand. Literature reviews include a summary and critical assessment of the arguments that exist (including whether or not you agree with them) and are arranged thematically. At the end of your literature review, you should discuss where research should go next. Are you persuaded by the arguments/findings of one author or another? Why? How could the research be improved upon (theoretically, methodologically, relevancy-wise, and etc)? Be sure you present any idea that you might have regarding how you would look at the topic area.


Developing a clear and concise literature review can be challenging. For this reason it will be important for you to review the following documents: 1) literature review tip sheet and 2) synthesis matrix. Together these documents will give you everything you need to carry out a successful literature review.

How many sources should I review?

This is a common question asked by students. Essentially the key to an excellent research paper is the research that helps back up its arguments. While this might be an unsatisfactory answer for those in need of a clear "magic number" a few additional observations can be made. Students writing a course paper 15-20 pages in length should expect to cite 15-30 peer-reviewed sources within their papers, though in order to get to this point they should expect to read 25-50 peer-reviewed sources. For this assignment your literature review should be at least 20 scholarly sources.

Format: This assignment should be at least 9 pages in length not including title and reference page. Your paper should have 1-inch borders on all four sides, use times new roman-12 point font, be double spaced, and not have an extra space in between paragraphs. (You may need to turn this off in MS word by going to paragraph and clicking "Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style). Use the Turabian parenthetical citation style with a references page.

Additional references for this assignment below.

Dille, Brian and Michael D. Young. 2000. The conceptual complexity of presidents Carter and Clinton: An automated content analysis of temporal stability and source bias. Political Psychology 21, no. 3 (September): 587-596. (JSTOR)

Dyson, Stephen Benedict. 2009. Stuff Happens: Donald Rumsfeld and the Iraq War. Foreign Policy Analysis 5: 327-347. (Wiley)

Young, Michael D. 2000. Automating assessment at a distance. The Political Psychologist 5, no. 1 (Spring): 17-23.

Hermann, Margaret G. 1984. Personality and foreign policy decision making: A study of 53 heads of government. In

Hermann, Margaret G. 1987. Assessing the foreign policy role orientations of Sub-Saharan African leaders. In Role, Theory, and Foreign Policy Analysis by Stephen Walker ed. 123-140.