Carnegie Mellon University

Ignacio Arana

Ignacio Arana

Assistant Professor, Institute for Politics and Strategy

  • Posner Hall 380
  • 412-268-1475


Dr. Arana is a comparativist that focuses on two lines of inquiry. He specializes in elite behavior by analyzing how the personality traits and other individual differences of heads of government impact executive governance. Second, he studies the consequences of variation in political institutions across countries, with an emphasis on Latin America. He examines executive-legislative relations, informal institutions, gender and politics, and judicial politics. 

His work has been published in The American Journal of Political SciencePolitical PsychologyDemocratizationJournal of Legislative StudiesLatin American Politics and SocietyJournal of Law and CourtsLatin American PerspectivesAmérica Latina HoyRevista de Ciencia PolíticaBolivian Studies Journal, and Política. He has also published or have forthcoming book chapters in Oxford University Press, Springer, and FLACSO.

He is currently working on completing the book “The Personality of Autocratizers and Constitutional Change in Latin America.

Arana is an affiliated faculty at CMU’s Center for Informed Democracy & Social-Cybersecurity (IDeaS), part of the Democratic Erosion consortium, Chile’s country expert for Freedom House since 2016, and columnist for

In IPS, Arana has benefitted from working with more than sixty research assistants developing projects such as the World Leaders Database Project, a database that contains biographical information about the nearly 2,000 leaders that have governed countries around the world since 1970.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, he received the Provost’s Inclusive Teaching Fellowship, which helped the students in his Comparative Politics class, the largest in IPS, feel empowered to participate.


Arana, Ignacio, & Guerrero Valencia, C. (2022). When Do First Ladies Run for Office? Lessons from Latin America. Latin American Politics and Society, 1-24. doi:10.1017/lap.2022.13
"The 'Big Five' personality traits of presidents and the relaxation of term limits in Latin America, Democratization, DOI: 10.1080/13510347.2021.1957838 (2021).

“The Quest for Uncontested Power: Presidents’ Personalities and Democratic Erosion in Latin America, 1945-2012.” Political Psychology (2021).  

“Judicial Reshuffles and Women Justices in Latin America.” American Journal of Political Science (with Aníbal Pérez-Liñán and Melanie Hughes) (2020). 

“The Personalities of Presidents as Independent Variables.” Political Psychology, (2020) 

“Executive-Legislative Relations: When do Legislators trust the President?” (with Carolina Guerrero). In Manuel Alcántara, ed., Political Elites and Leadership in Latin America. Book Chapter (2020).

“First Ladies as Members of the Political Elite” [In Spanish] (with Carolina Guerrero). América Latina Hoy 81: 31-49 (2019).

“Comparative Political Elites.” In Ali Farazmand and Mauricio Olavarría-Gambi, eds., The Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance. Springer International Publishing. Encyclopedia entry (2018).

“The Electoral Emergence of Latin American First Ladies [In Spanish] (with Carolina Guerrero). In L. M. Leibe and J. Suárez-Cao (Eds.), La Política Siempre ha sido Cosa de Mujeres: Elecciones y Protagonistas en Chile y la Región.” FLACSO-Chile. Book chapter (2018).

“Strategic Retirement in Comparative Perspective” (with Aníbal Pérez-Liñán). Journal of Law and Courts 5(2): 173-197 (2017).

“Chile 2016: The Nadir of Democratic Legitimacy?”  [In Spanish] Revista de Ciencia Política 37(2): 305-334 (2017). 

“What Drives Evo’s Attempts to Remain in Power? A Psychological Explanation.” Bolivian Studies Journal 22: 191-219 (2016).

“How to Assess the Members of the Political Elite? A Proposal Based on Presidents of the Americas.”  [In Spanish] Politica 54(1): 219-254 (2016).

“Aftershocks of Pinochet’s Constitution: the Chilean Post-Earthquake Reconstruction.” Latin American Perspectives 44(4): 62-80 (2016).