Charismatic Reactions to Individuals and Ideas: Looks, Language and Lincoln




This paper explores the application of Freud’s theories of leadership and group psychology to the case of Abraham Lincoln. It argues that followers’ needs for charismatic leaders propel them to construct heroic and charismatic cognitive representations of leaders who give the impression of power and who represent the ideal qualities of the group. Both leaders and their ideas can create an emotional connection with followers. During his lifetime, Americans developed charismatic and heroic interpretations of Abraham Lincoln’s appearance. They also responded positively to Lincoln’s use of biblical rhythms and phrases in his speeches and writings.

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Copyright (c) 2013 MDPI AG (Basel, Switzerland). This article first appeared online in Religions 4, no. 2 (April 15, 2013): 209-215.

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