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Leaders often are faced with making difficult decisions for their group, such as when a course of action preferred by group members conflicts with one that is likely to optimize group outcomes. Across five studies, I provide evidence that prestige-oriented leaders (but not dominance-oriented leaders) sometimes experience tension between facilitating the success of their group and maintaining their group members' social approval. Studies 1-3 examined whether highly prestige-oriented (but not dominance-oriented) leaders would adhere to group members' idiosyncratic desires at the expense of group performance. Findings from Studies 1-3 demonstrate that, in private, prestige-oriented leaders choose what they judge as best for group performance but that, in public, they choose whichever option is preferred by the rest of their group. In private, prestige-oriented leaders' tendency to choose the performance-enhancing option was mediated by group performance motives; in public, their adherence to group preferences was mediated by social approval motives. Thus, results from Studies 1-3 illuminate some of the key motivations that underlie prestige-oriented leaders' group behavior. Studies 4 and 5 extend this investigation by uncovering the social cognitive processes that are activated among prestige-oriented leaders when faced with common leadership situations that could threaten their level of social approval. Those studies focused on situations in which leaders anticipated having to provide their group members with critical feedback in public versus private. Studies 4 and 5 demonstrate that, when faced with giving their group members negative feedback publicly, leaders prestige-orientation was positively associated with ) (1) heightened attention to social targets (versus non-social targets)—particularly those targets displaying negative emotions (Study 4) and (2) elevated tendency to misidentify real smiles as being false—a self-protective bias.
Hierarchy, Leadership, Motivation, Organizational Behavior, Social Monitoring, Status
Date of Defense
April 10, 2017.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Jon K. Maner, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; James K. McNulty, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Heather A. Flynn, University Representative; E. Ashby Plant, Committee Member; Andrea Meltzer, Committee Member; Jesse R. Cougle, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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