Department of Political Science

An Intra-Group Perspective on Leader Preferences: Different Risks of Exploitation Shape Preferences for Leader Facial Dominance

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This article argues that followers’ preferences for dominant leadership vary according to two types of exploitation risks from other individuals within the group. Previous work demonstrates that contexts of inter-group war and peace make followers prefer dominant- and non-dominant-looking leaders, respectively. We add an intra-group perspective to this literature. Four original studies demonstrate that contexts with high risks of free-riding and criminal behavior from other group members (i.e., horizontal exploitation) increase preferences for dominant-looking leaders, whereas contexts with high risks of unresponsive, self-interested behavior from leaders themselves (i.e., vertical exploitation) decrease preferences for dominant-looking leaders. Moreover, within this framework of intra-group exploitation risks we show that followers prefer leaders from another vis-à-vis their own ethnic coalition to look less dominant, and that this difference is driven by enhanced concerns for vertical exploitation from ethnically different leaders. The findings add new insights on appearance-based voting and electoral difficulties facing minority candidates.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Leadership Quarterly
Pages (from-to)820-837
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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