Ok, I don’t understand Museveni’s psychology enough to take a legitimate stab at why he seems to overestimate his own abilities. But a recent article in TIME (by the way, did you know that TIME is an acronym? “The International Magazine of Events”) discussed precisely this issue — namely, why people in powerful positions (from Obama to Putin to M7) tend to overestimate their own capacity.
The article discusses a new study by two Stanford researchers published in Psychological Science. Authors note, “By producing an illusion of personal control, power may cause people to lose touch with reality in ways that lead to overconfident decision-making.”
How does M7 measure up?
Personal control. Check. Losing touch with reality. Check. Overconfident decision-making. Check…
M7 was until recent years hailed the “new breed of African leader.” Just months after coming to power in 1986 he announced, “The main cause of Africa’s crisis is leaders who do not want to leave power. There is no reason why anyone should be president for more than ten years.” And yet here we are, in 2009, with two years until the next presidential election, and his fourth term is already inevitable in the eyes of many. So what happened? Was his personalisation of power inevitable? (see last week’s article in The Independent, “Family Rule in Uganda” , for more info on the subject)
I don’t think an experiment with Stanford students rolling dice can provide any definitive answers to these questions. Nevertheless, I find valuable research on the psychology of power, and why some leaders take their countries to moon while others drive them into the ground. I tend to think that individual agency plays a large role…but of course this is a subject of great debate. Does a leader shape society more than society shapes a leader?