Journal of Chinese Political Science

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 473–497 | Cite as

Can Xi Jinping be the next Mao Zedong? Using the Big Five Model to Study Political Leadership

  • Tony C. LeeEmail author


It is commonly believed that the current Chinese president, Xi Jinping, shares a leadership style with Mao Zedong on account of his charisma, prosecution of political enemies, and centralization of power. But is there any substantial evidence to supporting that belief? This paper seeks to answer the question by employing the Big Five model to investigate three dimensions related to leadership style—namely, charisma, political tolerance, and need for achievement. The psycholinguistic program LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) is used to analyze Mao and XI’s utterances in order to measure and compare their personal traits. Findings suggest that Mao and Xi share similar levels of ‘extraversion’ and ‘openness to experience’, but differ in ‘conscientiousness’, ‘agreeableness’, and ‘neuroticism’. Thus, while both Mao and Xi exude charisma, Mao manifests lower political tolerance whereas Xi has a greater need for achievement.


Xi Jinping Mao Zedong Big Five model Leadership style 


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© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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