Identification and Leadership in Small Groups: Salience, Frame of Reference, and Leader Stereotypicality Effects on Leader Evaluations

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Abstract

Two studies tested the prediction that people who identify strongly with a group base leadership perceptions on the group prototypicality of the leader whereas leadership schemas diminish in importance. Leadership and prototypicality were operationalized as relational constructs grounded in people's salient social comparative frame of reference. Study 1 (N = 82) had participants nominate a group leader and measured perceptions of the leader relative to nonleaders on leadership effectiveness, group prototypicality, and leadership stereotypicality. In Study 2 (N = 164) prototypicality, stereotypicality, and group salience were experimentally manipulated. As predicted, leadership stereotypicality became a weaker basis for leadership among high identifiers. The role of prototypicality in leadership was complexly affected by identification, which (a) accentuated leader-follower similarity on perceived prototypicality and leadership effectiveness, (b) changed the salient frame of reference, and (c) thus changed relative prototypicality of group members and leadership perceptions.

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