James David Barber

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For other people named James Barber, see James Barber (disambiguation).
James David Barber
Born (1930-07-31)July 31, 1930
Charleston, West Virginia
Died September 12, 2004(2004-09-12) (aged 74)
Durham, North Carolina
Cause of death
Primary progressive aphasia
Occupation Author, political scientist
Spouse(s) Ann Sale Barber (?–?)
Amanda Mackay Smith (1972–2004)
Children 4

James David Barber (July 31, 1930–September 12, 2004) was a political scientist whose book The Presidential Character made him famous for his classification of presidents through their worldviews. From 1977 to 1995 he taught political science at Duke University.

Background[edit]

Barber was born on July 31, 1930, in Charleston, West Virginia, to a physician and a nurse.[1] In the 1950s he served in the United States Army as a counter-intelligence agent before attending the University of Chicago, where he earned a master's degree in political science. He earned a Ph.D. in the same field from Yale University.

He joined the faculty at Duke University in 1972, and he became a fully fledged professor at that institute in 1977.[2]

He is credited in the field of political science for being the first to examine presidents beyond case studies. He devised a system of organizing a president's character into either active-positive, passive-positive, active-negative, or passive-negative.

  • Traits of a passive-positive president include a low self-esteem compensated by an ingratiating personality, superficially optimistic, and a desire to please. Examples of passive-positive presidents include William Howard Taft, Ronald Reagan, and Warren G. Harding.
  • Traits of an active-negative president include lack of joy after deriving much effort on tasks, aggressive, highly rigid, and having a general view of power as a means to self-realization. Examples of active-negative presidents include Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon.
  • Traits of a passive-negative president include a strong sense of duty, desire to avoid power, low self-esteem compensated by service towards others, and an overall aversion to intense political negotiation. Presidential examples include Calvin Coolidge and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

References[edit]

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