At a distance analysis focuses primarily on the methods that an analyst will used to gather information about a target (decision maker and/or political leader). However, analysis is not a clear cut as simply gathering information about the decision maker/political leader. In addition to potential personality traits that can be gathered from background biographical information on the decision maker and who personality types will impact the actions a decision makers there is the concept of integrative complexity which is “a measure of cognitive information processing, has in past studies shown reliable changes associated with international crises: sustained relatively high levels in the communications of leaders prior to a peaceful resolution, unilateral decreases on the part of a nation’s leaders prior to its launching a surprise attack, and bilateral decreases before the outbreak of an escalation spiral war.” (Suedfeld 2003) Any at a distance analysis should attempt to identify how the target will react to international crisis such as aggressive actions by another nation and/or the potential of a terrorist actions. Integrative complexity is the concept of identifying how the target will process information and therefore process that information with the potential of countering with aggressive action or reacting with diplomacy.
Much like attempting to identify personality of political leaders and decision makers, integrative complexity can be identified from verbal material, “Complexity can be scored in almost any verbal material, whether written or spoken, produced in response to specific questions or spontaneously: test completions, letters, diaries, interviews, press conferences, books, articles, memos, diplomatic notes, military orders, reports, debates, and so on practically ad infinitum” (Suedfeld 2003) Even though public statements given by decision makers are highly biased and/or influenced by speech writers and other advisors important information can be gathered from the ways in which the decision maker is reacting to situations. This information is important because “studies have also examined how the context might influence complexity or how people with different levels of complexity react to different conditions. Suedfeld, Tetlock and Struefert (a992) refer to this interaction as integrative complexity. High scores integrative complexity were found to be related to peaceful resolution of international conflict” (Ishiyama and Breuning 2010, p 358) An example of why integrative complexity is important is Vladimir Putin and his reactions to the crisis in the Ukraine. As of February 2015 President Putin said the following “In his interview - his first extended comments since the ceasefire deal was agreed on 12 February - Mr. Putin was asked if there was a real threat of war, given the situation in eastern Ukraine.” I think that such an apocalyptic scenario is unlikely and I hope this will never happen," he said. Mr. Putin said that if the Minsk agreement was implemented, eastern Ukraine would "gradually stabilize". "Europe is just as interested in that as Russia. No one wants conflict on the edge of Europe, especially armed conflict," he said.” (Ukraine Conflict: Russia’s Vladimir Putin Says War ‘unlikely’ 2015) However, actions speak louder than words in some cases as conflict continues in the Ukraine. “Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) also said fighting has continued since the ceasefire. A statement from the mission said a rebel commander at a checkpoint in Donetsk had threatened to kill a monitoring team on Sunday.” (Ukraine Conflict: Russia’s Vladimir Putin Says War ‘unlikely’ 2015) Given that hostile action continues in the Ukraine it would appear that President Putin has a low integrative complexity, regardless of what statements the Russian President makes. This is the reason why at a distance analyst must take all information into account before completing an analysis is there are several aspects that will have a greater impact on the actions of the decision maker/political leader.
A similar concept to integrative complexity is self-monitoring, which is defined as “According to theoretical analyses of self-monitoring, people differ in the extent to which they can and do observe and control their expressive behavior and self-presentation (e.g., Snyder, 1979). Individuals high in self-monitoring are thought to regulate their expressive self-presentation for the sake of desired public appearances, and thus be highly responsive to social and interpersonal cues of situational appropriate performances. Individuals low in self-monitoring are thought to lack either the ability or the motivation to so regulate their expressive self-presentations. Their expressive behaviors, instead, are thought to functionally reflect their own enduring and momentary inner states, including their attitudes, traits, and feelings.” (Snyder and Gangestad 1986) Self-monitoring is the idea that the personality traits of the decision maker and/or political leader will come out in public addresses (in television interviews, public speeches and the like). Those with a high level of self-monitoring will not reveal much information regarding his or her personal thoughts, those with a low level of self-monitoring will give more information away. As an example of how integrative complexity and self-monitoring work in conjunction with one another to offer an analysis of a decision maker and/or political leader I will once again use Vladimir Putin President of Russia “if they ever really were. Look at the world from his perspective, and Mr. Putin is winning. For all his enemies’ machinations, he remains the Kremlin’s undisputed master. He has a throttlehold on Ukraine, a grip this week’s brittle agreement in Minsk has not eased. Domesticating Ukraine through his routine tactics of threats and bribery was his first preference, but the invasion has had side benefits. It has demonstrated the costs of insubordination to Russians; and, since he thinks Ukraine’s government is merely a puppet of the West (the supposed will of its people being, to his ultra-cynical mind, merely a cover for Western intrigues), the conflict has usefully shown who is boss in Russia’s backyard. Best of all, it has sown discord among Mr. Putin’s adversaries: among Europeans, and between them and America.” (Putin’s War on the West 2015) Mr. Putin has an almost paranoid fear of war with the west, to the point that is appears that he is preparing for war by once again seeking dominance over the Ukraine. This is being done so that a buffer exists between East and West. Given this fact Mr. Putin is low in integrative complexity in that his is apparently unable to process the intricate concept that the West is taking a strong stance against Russia because of its actions toward the Ukraine and not because the West has any desire to wage war with Russia. When looking at the idea of self-monitoring the following has been reported, “From his tantrums over the Middle East to his invasion of Georgia and multiple misadventures in Ukraine, Mr. Putin has sometimes seemed to stumble into accidental disputes with the West, driven by a paranoid fear of encirclement. In hindsight it seems that, given his outlook, confrontation may have been inevitable. Either way, the contest he insists on can no longer be dodged. It did not begin in poor Ukraine and will not end there. Prevailing will require far more resolve than Western leaders have so far mustered.” (Putin’s War on the West 2015) With this information in mind Mr. Putin is also low in self-monitoring. This means that his true feelings are well known based on public addresses.
The primary issue when dealing with decision makers/political leaders is that they can at times be unstable because they are slow on processing information(fear of other nations and potential for war)and low self-monitoring in the fact that their true feelings, emotions and thoughts are given in public addresses. This information is necessary for a complete at a distance analysis of any decision maker/political leader.
Ishiyama, John T., and Marijke Breuning. 21st Century Political Science a Reference Handbook. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2010.
"Putin's War on the West." The Economist. February 14, 2015. Accessed May 14, 2015.http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21643189-ukraine-suffers-it-time-recognise-gravity-russian-threatand-counter.
Snyder, Mark and Steve Gangestad. 1986. "On the nature of self-monitoring: Matters of assessment, matters of validity.” Journal of personality and social psychology 51, no. 1: 125-139, http://search.proquest.com/docview/614301215?accountid=8289.
Suedfeld, Peter. "Integrative Complexity of Western and Terrorist Leaders in the War against the Afghan Terrorist Regime." Psicología Política, 2003, 79-91.
"Ukraine Conflict: Russia's Vladimir Putin Says War 'unlikely' - BBC News." BBC News. February 24, 2015. Accessed May 14, 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31596634.