Perceived Conflict and Leader Dominance: Individual and Contextual Factors Behind Preferences for Dominant Leaders

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Abstract

Recent research finds that political candidates and leaders with dominant, masculine physical features are more preferred under conditions of conflict than of cooperation. Importantly, however, methodological limitations of past research have hindered the identification of whether this effect reflects that voters intuitively view (1) dominant leaders as more competent in solving problems of conflict, (2) nondominant leaders as more competent in solving problems of cooperation, or (3) both. In this article, we utilize recent advances in evolutionary psychology to form precise predictions on the nature of the underlying psychology and employ an unprecedented array of data types—including highly controlled experiments, natural experiments, and behavioral measures—to investigate the validity of these predictions. Using large approximately nationally representative surveys of 2,009 Poles and Ukrainians fielded during the Crimea crisis in 2014, we find that preferences for leader dominance are exclusively driven by the intuition that dominant leaders are better able to facilitate aggressive responses during social conflict and that these preferences are regulated by contextual conditions and individual predispositions related to such responses.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftPolitical Psychology
Vol/bind38
Nummer6
Sider (fra-til)1083-1101
Antal sider19
ISSN0162-895X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2017

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