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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
October 26, 2016
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Faculty of Science

Scholar to discuss life and decisions of George W. Bush for Hunsberger lecture

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Jan 30/12| For Immediate Release


Michael W. Pratt, Professor
Department of Psychology
519-884-0710 ext. 2824 or


Kevin Crowley, Director, Communications & Public Affairs
Wilfrid Laurier University
519-884-0710 ext. 3070 or

WATERLOO – Wilfrid Laurier University will welcome Dan P. McAdams, a leading expert in personality psychology, as this year’s Hunsberger Memorial Lecturer.

McAdams, a professor from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, will deliver his lecture, “George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream: A Psychological Portrait,” on Friday, Feb. 10.

In March 2003, former U.S. president George W. Bush launched an American military invasion of Iraq, which was arguably the most controversial and consequential decision of his presidency. Why did he do it? Based on an analysis of Bush’s life and a reading of contemporary scientific research in personality psychology, McAdams considers the psychological factors that may have influenced the president’s decision. McAdams argues that a perfect storm of dispositional traits, personal goals and a deeply ingrained life story of redemption, combined with the historical moment, triggered and provided a personal justification for Bush’s decision to go to war.

“The analysis sheds light on Bush’s fateful choice and on his life more generally. It illustrates how empirical findings in personality science can be fruitfully applied to the study of an individual case, in this instance one of grave historical moment,” said Michael Pratt, professor of Psychology at Laurier who organized the event. “The lecture will be intriguing for anyone interested in contemporary politics, history and the potential role of psychology in understanding leadership and decision-making in the real world.”

McAdams is the chair of the Psychology department at Northwestern, where he was honoured as a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence. He is the author of almost 200 scientific articles and chapters and six books, including The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By (Oxford University Press), which won the 2006 William James Award from the American Psychological Association (APA). McAdams is also the recipient of the Henry A. Murray Award from the APA and the Theodore Sarbin Award for his contributions to the field of psychology. Friday’s lecture is based on his book George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream: A Psychological Portrait (Oxford University Press), published in 2011.

Laurier’s annual Hunsberger Memorial Lecture was created in honour of Bruce Hunsberger, a Laurier professor of psychology from 1974 to 2003. He also served as the chair of the department for many years. Hunsberger was an influential scholar in the psychology of religion, prejudice and applied social psychology. He was a recipient of the William James Award from the American Psychological Association.

The lecture will take place from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Bricker Academic Building, room BA201. A reception will follow in the Science Building, room N2005. The lecture is free and open to the public.


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