LoCicero has studied terrorist leadership and victims of terrorism from all five continents. She says that in some cultures, it's important to show respect to leaders, whether it's North Korea's Kim family of dictators or just the local schoolteacher.
"It would be embarrassing to a family or individual if they didn't show a great deal of respect," she said.
Dictators are also able to rule with more practical tools, such as fear and control of information, according to Jerrold Post, director of the political psychology program at George Washington University.
Post has studied the personalities of both Hussein and Kim for several decades, and jokes that his field of dictator scholarship may soon be obsolete.
"I've lost a lot of my old friends," he said. "But we still have (Iranian leader Mahmoud) Ahmadenijad."
Post said that in both Iraq and North Korea, dictators tightly controlled the flow of information. That control was upended in the past two years during the "Arab spring" revolts that swept away despots in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and some of the Gulf states, revolts that were encouraged in large part by information spread by cell phones and social media.