The Downside of Looking Like a Leader

Power, Nonverbal Confidence and Participative Decision-Making
Published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
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Written with her dissertation supervisor, Cameron Anderson, the article uses laboratory studies conducted at UC Berkeley and LSE to explore the effects of the leader’s non-verbal behaviour on a decision-making discussion with a subordinate.

This research article, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, is based on Connson’s PhD dissertation. Written with her dissertation supervisor, Cameron Anderson, the article uses laboratory studies conducted at UC Berkeley and LSE to explore the effects of the leader’s non-verbal behaviour on a decision-making discussion with a subordinate. 

Abstract From Journal Article

An abundance of evidence suggests that exhibiting a confident nonverbal demeanor helps individuals ascend social hierarchies. The current research examines some of the implications of having individuals in positions of power who exhibit such nonverbal confidence. Three studies examined dyads that worked together on decision-making tasks. It was found that people participated less in a discussion when they interacted with a powerful individual who exhibited confidence than when a powerful individual did not exhibit confidence. Moreover, people who interacted with a confident powerful individual participated less because they viewed that individual to be more competent. People even deferred to the confident powerful individual’s opinions when that individual was wrong, leading to suboptimal joint decisions. Moderation analyses suggest that the powerful individual was able to mitigate the effects of a confident demeanor somewhat by also showing an open nonverbal demeanor.

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