Charisma in Everyday Life: Conceptualization and Validation of the General Charisma Inventory

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Although both scholars and lay people are fascinated with charismatic individuals, relatively few theorists have attempted to define charisma. Much of the empirical research examining charisma has focused on leadership. Even within that literature, however, theorists have focused on charisma’s outcomes, leaving unarticulated what charisma actually is. Here, we tested an operational conceptualization of charisma in the context of everyday life. Specifically, we proposed that charisma is composed of the interpersonally focused dimensions of influence (the ability to guide others) and affability (the ability to make other people feel comfortable and at ease). We validated this conceptualization in a series of studies. In Studies 1–3, we used exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses to construct a short 6-item measure of charisma, the General Charisma Inventory. Next, in Study 4, we used round-robin evaluations and informant reports to establish the interpersonal nature of charisma. Finally, we examined the incremental validity of the scale in the context of dyadic interactions and tested the impact of charisma on perceptions of persuasiveness from voices. We found that (a) lay people possess a consensual conception of charisma; (b) charisma consists of a composition of quantifiable dimensions; (c) charisma is distinct from other constructs of interest to psychologists and leadership theorists; (d) charisma is observable; and (e) assessments of charisma predict real world outcomes. Thus, the current work not only comprehensively conceptualizes and measures charisma as an empirical construct, but also demonstrates its potential importance for the routine interactions that people experience every day.

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