Motivation, power and leadership: article summaries

Article summaries Motivation, power and leadership, based on 2014-15

Lecture 1: Introduction

  •   Leadership Research and Theory: A Functional Integration (Chemers, 2000)


Lecture 2: Leadership, Power, and Motivation Theories

  •   Motivating individuals and groups at work: a social identity perspective on leadership and group performance (Ellemers, de Gilder & Haslam, 2004)
  •   Self-determination theory and work motivation (Gagné & Deci, 2005)

Lecture 3: The Dark Side of Power

  • Destructive leadership behaviour: A definition and conceptual model (Einarsen, Schanke Aasland, & Skogstad, 2007)
  • When the boss feels inadequate: Power, competence and aggression (Fast & Chen, 2009)
  • Holding onto power: Effects of power holders’ positional instability and expectancies on interactions with subordinates (Georgeson & Harris, 2006).
  • Sexual overperception: Power, mating motives, and biases in social judgment (Kunstman & Maner, 2011)

Lecture 4: Power

  • From power to action (Galinsky, Gruenfeld, & Magee, 2003)
  • Power, approach and inhibition (Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003)
  • Equality versus differentiation: the effects of power dispersion on group interaction (Greer & van Kleef, 2010)


Lecture 5: Mood and Emotions in Leadership

  • When leaders display emotion: how followers respond to negative emotional expressions of male and female leaders (Lewis, 2000)
  • Searing sentiment or cold calculation? The effects of leader emotional displays on team performance depend on follower epistemic motivation (van Kleef, Homan, Beersma, van Knippenberg, & Damen, 2009)


Lecture 6: Leadership and Diversity (+ future avenues)

  • Facing differences with an open mind: openness to experience, salience of intragroup differences, and performance of diverse work groups (Homan, Hollenbeck, Humphry, van Knippenberg, Ilgen, & van Kleef, 2008)
  • The effects of leadership style and team process on performance and innovation in functionally heterogeneous teams (Somech, 2006).


Literature Lecture 1: Introduction

Leadership Research and Theory: A Functional Integration (Chemers, 2000)


In this article the author gives a functional integration of theories about how good leaders behave and which characteristics provide these behaviours. Therefore he gives an enumeration of historical perspectives. The definition of leadership, used in this article, is as follows: ‘a process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task’.


Before Contingency Theory: Lost in the Wilderness
To declare the field of leadership Western European philosophers looked primarily at characteristics of leaders. The great man theory (Garlyle, 1841/1907) proposes that great leaders have characteristics that distinguish them from followers. So leaders are born, not made.


The typical research format for these days was to test for differences between leaders and followers on selected trait measures. Stogdill (1948) found that although individual differences were important to identify effective leaders, great diversity of situations made it implausible that any of the traits would be general predictor. This set the stage for combining leader traits and situational contingencies to create theories of leadership.


Behaviours and Styles
After traits, researchers switched to the study of behaviour. They tried to find patterns in the behaviour that regard high productivity or morality. The greatest impact came from a set of studies about developing a behavioural inventory, which is called the ‘Leader Behaviour Description Questionnaire’ (Hemphill, 1950). Halpin and Winer (1957) state that a major part of the variability could be explained by two major clusters:

Consideration:  included behaviours that seem to reflect leader intentions to represent a positive group morale and follower satisfaction.

Initiation of Structure: included behaviours that seem to be related to the focus of the leader on building a structure for task completion.

Unfortunately, this carefully structured method failed in more than completely predicting leadership behaviour.

Hollander (1964,1970) found that individuals in groups gain status through the illustration of task-related competence and faithfulness to group values. Idiosyncrasy credits can be regarded as units of group acceptance/ trustworthiness that can be used for influencing others and support leeway from group norms to foresee for innovation in group processes and ideas. This work is still relevant (Hogg, 1998: social identity theory), because it contains both cognitive and behavioural elements in its approach.


The Mid-1960s to the Mid-1970s: The Contingency Era

The Contingency Model
The contingency model of leadership effectiveness (Fiedler: 1964,1967) is a new approach to look at leadership theories. The Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) scale distinguished leaders who viewed bad performing subordinates in negative terms and leaders who viewed them in positive terms.  New studies showed that relationship-orientated leaders had more effective teams than task-orientated leaders. Groups led by task-oriented leaders performed best in situations of high control and predictability/ very low control and predictability. On the other side groups led by relationship-orientated leaders performed best in situations of moderate control or predictability. There was some criticism on this contingency model for it’s complexity and for the assumption that it’s not possible to choose to be both styles oriented as a leader.


Normative Decision Theory
Vroom and Yetton (1973) integrated a leaders’ decision strategy with the situational factors in a model. There are three ranges of decision-making strategies included:

  • Autocratic styles: leaders make a decision with minimal input from followers à best

   when the task is clear and the followers are supportive

  • Consultative styles: leaders make a decision after getting advice from followers à

   best when task or information is not clear

  • Participative/ Group styles: leaders and followers make decisions together (with

   equal weight) à best when the leader lacks follower support

The contingency model and normative decision theory differ in the situation of very low control. The contingency model is more focused on the direct group performance through immediate leader action. Here normative decision theory goes for more participative strategies for a long run supportive environment.


Path-Goal Theory
The path-goal theory states that a leader’s main goal is to motivate followers by supporting them to see a relation between their task-related performances and achieving their personal goal. This path-goal framework attempt to understand if there is an effect on follower’s motivation and performance when the leader’s behaviour is directive (initiation of structure) or supportive (consideration). A leader’s directive behaviour would be motivating when a follower has minimal training/ experience or with a highly complex task. If this is not the case, directive behaviour can become a little ‘pushy’. Supportive behaviour is most effective when the follower need psychological or emotional help to deal with a boring or unpleasant task.


The Mid-1970s to the Mid-1980s: Cognitive Models and Gender Concerns

Leadership Perceptions
Ratings of leaders might strongly biased, Staw (1975) found that if you show two sets of observers the same video and you tell that one group was successful and the other group unsuccessful, that the ratings of the observers were both on supportive and directive leadership higher in the success-condition. Here the attribution theory provided a theoretical framework for investigation of leadership biases. Inter alia, Calder (1977) argued that the leadership theories are most often described in popular language and poorly scientifically valid. Therefore he states that leadership exists primarily as an attribution, instead of a measurable construct. Implicit personality theory: ‘a structure of association about what traits or characteristics are related that guides and organizes perceptions, thoughts, and memories about a phenomenon’ (Hastorf et al., 1970). Lord and his associates manifested leadership attributions are based on recognition and inferential processes. Recognition processes emerge when behaviour of a person would result in the perception of him/ her as a leader. Once you are seen as a leader, selective focus/ memory enhanced that judgment. Inferential processes refer to that implicit theories of leadership are associative with team success with great leadership. Once a person is seen as a leader, the inferential processes are likely to strengthen that perception. If characteristics of a person (such as gender/ race) are contrary with prototypic expectations, these implicit processes will not always hold.

Judgements tend to be susceptible to the fundamental attribution error. This implies that poor performances are more likely to be ascribed to personal causes over (equally plausible) external causes. This effect becomes stronger as the consequence of the performance is more extreme. In real-world workgroups leaders tend to blame followers for poor performance and possibly taken credits for group successes: this are some ego-defensive attributions.


Gender Effects
Are men and women truly different in their leadership orientations/ behaviours and if so, is there a different effect on follower reaction and group performance? There are three explanations for potential differences between male and female leadership.

women and men are biologically different (e.g. hormones)

they are culturally different (gender roles)

and observed differences between men and women and the responses to those differences are structurally determined

Given the fact that there is no evidence for any biological bases for gender differences in social behaviour: it is possible that differences in socialization to gender roles carry over to behaviour: gender role spill over. In actual leadership behaviour women show few differences from men, but they are still delicate to the barriers created by negative stereotypes about female leadership.


The Mid-1980s to the Mid-1990s:

Transformational Leadership and Cultural Awareness Transformational Theories

Burns (1978) differentiated great leaders in:

  • Transactional leaders: relationship with followers is based on mutually beneficial transactions

  • Transformational leaders: influencing followers to go beyond own interests and transform themselves into agents of collective achievement


House (1977) identified three sets of characteristics that typified charismatic leadership:

  1. personal characteristics: strong belief in the moral righteousness of one’s beliefs, high level of self confidence and a strong need to dominate/ influence others

  2. behaviours: dramatic goal articulation, role modelling of desired attitudes/ behaviours, image building, exhibiting high expectations of and confidence in followers and arousing follower motives that were consistent with desired behaviour

  3. situational influences: high levels of environmental stress or an opportunity to express group goals in moralistic or spiritual terms


Bass (1993) built a questionnaire to measure transformational leadership: the Multi-Factor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ). Factor analysis yielded 7 factors: 3 transactional (Contingent Reward, Management by Exception and Laissez-Faire Leadership) and 4 transformational (Idealized Influence, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation and Individualized Consideration). You can see transformational theories as ‘universally’ effective leadership behaviour (all leaders, all conditions), whereas contingency theories show that effective leadership is the result of the fit between specific behaviour and particular situations.


Leadership Efficacy
The combination of the leader’s personal characteristics and situational parameters is an important determinant of a leader’s confident and efficacious behaviour. And this behaviour is the basis for detracting elements of leadership. Transformational leadership measures leadership at the outcome level: dependent variable. Whereas contingency theories focus more on the characteristics level: independent variable.


Cultural Differences
Two streams of thought on cultural differences and the influence on leadership theorizing:

  1. This stream is about the effects of culture on social processes. The individualistic cultures (e.g. Western Europe/ English-speaking countries) attach great value to achievement and personal expression. Collectivist cultures (+/- rest of the world) attach great value to collective successes and group harmony. Hofstede (80’,83’) found four dimensions of national values with profound effects on organizational functioning: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism and masculinity-feminity. Leaders should be seen as powerful in high power distance cultures, as expert/ orderly in high uncertainty avoidance cultures, as caring in collectivist cultures and as macho in masculine cultures.


  1. A more empirical stream: testing varied leadership theories across different national groups. Adapting the LBDQ to Japanese culture we can identify two broad classes of leader behaviour: (1) Performance (work accomplishment through direction and productivity) and (2) Maintenance (maintaining high group morale). Higher scores on both classes of behaviour leads in Japan to better and more productive work groups. Almost the same results were found for Iranian managers.


A Functional Integration
Three major functions that a leader needs to carry out to be successful:

1. Image management

A leader must build on the credibility of the feasibility of his or her authority. This by projecting an image, which evokes feelings of confidence with the followers.


2. Relationship development

A leader must ensure that a relationship is built with the followers, which cause that both followers strive for own and common purposes.


3. Resource deployment.

Leaders must effectively use knowledge, skills and material resources that are present within the group to get the group mission done.


This leadership research-area is influenced by periodic fashions. – Find common findings and streams – what must a leader do to be effective (to influence followers toward foal attainment) – Leadership efficacy and Group collective efficacy may be the most important contributors to each of the functional necessities of leadership performance.


Literature Lecture 2: Leadership, Power, and Motivation Theories


Motivating individuals and groups at work: a social identity perspective on leadership and group performance (Ellemers, de Gilder, & Haslam, 2004)


Theoretical accounts of work motivation are about factors that energize (encourage you to invest energy in your work), direct (focus your efforts on important tasks), and sustain work-related behaviour (to persist effort over time). They have been used to explain the behaviour of individual workers as separate agents. But developments in the workplace have made these models less applicable: individual work performance is hard to measure these days, due to an increased focus on common goods and group goals. So, what are the implications of this shift from individual to collective, and what happens when individual goals are incompatible with collective goals? This article focuses on answering new questions based on the old theoretical accounts: 1. How are people energized to engage in behaviours for the collective? 2. How do people direct their activities toward individual and collective goals? 3. How do people sustain their efforts for the collective (for example when job prospects are insecure)? The answer to these questions comes from the social identity approach.


Individuals and groups at work
Little is known about motivation in workgroups because the focus has been on individuals instead of groups, and so the traditional approach is to create situations in which the achievement of individual goals is dependent on the achievement of group goals. So, there still is a focus on individuals as separate entities, and the fact that individual preferences could be aligned with collective goals is not considered. We should be considering the ways in which groups represent internalized values. Because group-based goals are not always an extrinsic source of motivation, it can become intrinsic. The self can be seen in individual terms (”I”) and in collective terms (“we”). A self-conception in collective terms would energize people to act in behalf of the group, direct efforts towards collective outcomes, and sustain team loyalty even if it’s not individually rewarding. So, now it’s important to know when people tend to define themselves in individual versus collective terms.


Self-categorization and social identity
Social identity theory states that there are three processes that underlie group-based social interactions: 1. Social categorization: people organize social information by categorizing people into groups, especially when group membership is invariable over time, 2. Social comparison: this process gives meaning to a categorization: features that distinguish one group from another help to define the group in a particular situation. Depending on the context, some categorizations are more salient than others (based on comparative context and normative fit), and 3. Social identification:  this is the process by which information about social groups is related to the self. When we perceive ourselves as members of a group, we perceive group features as self-descriptive and adopt group norms. So, based on these three processes, we can predict when we see ourselves as “I” and when as “we” and when which group memberships become more salient. In the article, 12 propositions are discussed that follow logically from social identity theory.

  • Proposition 1: People will identify more with a collective to the extent that it distinguishes them from other collectives.

  • Proposition 2: In a given comparative context, people are more likely to identify with smaller, more distinctive collectives than with more inclusive ones.

  • Proposition 3: When the group isn’t successful, individuals’ identification will be stronger to the extent that it’s likely that the collective will be successful in the future.

  • Proposition 4: When the group is successful, identification will be enhanced when external circumstances threaten this success.


Social identification and work motivation

  • Proposition 5: When the situation induces workers to identify with the collective, they will be energized when their inclusion in the group isn’t completely acknowledged, they will behave in line with what is distinctive for the group and sustain group goals across situations and time.

  • Proposition 6: When the situation leads workers to disidentify with the collective, they will be energized to show this lack of identification when treated as part of the collective, they will direct their behaviour to show they are different and sustain group goals only when they are individually rewarding or when they overlap with the goals of another group.


Identification vs. Commitment in organizations
Emotional involvement of the self with the group can motivate individuals to direct their efforts toward group goals. Social identity theory adds knowledge about conditions that foster a concern with collective rather than individual conceptions of the self. We should see identification as a dynamic outcome of situational features (e.g. identification differs when you are dealing with representatives from another firm vs. coworkers).


Who is most accepted as a motivating source? And under which conditions will they be most successful in mobilizing their followers? To be a successful leader, it’s important to communicate and create a sense of shared identity.

  • Proposition 7: To the extent that followers perceive their leader to share a common identity, positive leadership behaviour is seen as indicative of the true self of the leader, while negative leadership behaviour is not. The reverse pattern is true for leaders who are perceived as out-group members.

Whose guidelines are most likely to be accepted as a motivating force? This also depends on the situation: the leader should represent the characteristics that help to positively distinguish the in-group from the out-group in a given situation.

  • Proposition 8: When group members perceive the situation in intergroup terms, they accept leaders who most clearly represent ways in which the group can be positively distinguished from the relevant comparison group.

  • Proposition 9: Circumstances that enhance a sense of shared identity facilitate a leader’s attempts to motivate followers, whereas factors that set the leader apart from the followers (e.g. unequal reward system or exceptional skills) can undermine leadership effectiveness. 

Group performance
Measures that enhance the salience of a collective identity can also contribute to the motivation to achieve collective goals and avoid motivation loss in groups (social loafing).

  • Proposition 10: Collectives that are not bound together by interpersonal ties can be energized to work on joint tasks when the circumstances enhance the salience of a common identity and prevent focus on interpersonal distinctions.

  • Proposition 11: Collective identification directs efforts to joint performance when this helps to achieve a distinct collective identity. However, focusing on collective identification and group norms can be counter effective, e.g. when the group sets norms for underperformance (soldiering) or individualistic behaviour.

  • Proposition 12: Individuals will sustain their efforts on behalf of a group either when they see group performance improvement as a realistic prospect or when they fear collective position loss.


Self-determination theory and work motivation (Gagné & Deci, 2005)

Introduction: cognitive evaluation theory
This theory is used to explain the effects of extrinsic motivators on intrinsic motivation. It suggests that external factors (e.g. rewards, evaluations) undermine intrinsic motivation; this is called the undermining effect. Feelings of competence and autonomy are important for intrinsic motivation (e.g. positive feedback). You can only use rewards without affecting intrinsic motivation if you give them independent of the task and when they are not anticipated. Some problems with the cognitive evaluation theory: conclusions are solely based on laboratory studies and they are hard to incorporate, activities at work are simply not intrinsically interesting and monetary rewards are practical. Furthermore, this theory implies that you should focus on either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Self-determination theory offers a solution: extrinsically motivated behaviour can become autonomous through internalization.


Self-determination theory
Self-determination theory states that there is a distinction between autonomous motivation (which is volitional, with a sense of choice) and controlled motivation (with a sense of pressure, having to do something). Behaviour can thus be described in terms of the degree to which it is autonomous or controlled. So, there is no simple distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: extrinsic motivation can vary in the degree to which it is autonomous versus controlled. Behaviour can be externally regulated: it is initiated and maintained by something external, which is the classic type of extrinsic motivation and controlled motivation. Sometimes, however, we internalize values and attitudes such that the external regulation becomes an internal regulation. There is, according to self-determination theory, a controlled-to-autonomous continuum: the more fully it has been internalized, the more autonomous the subsequent behaviour is. Internalization covers three processes: 1. Introjection: when a regulation has been taken in by a person who has not yet accepted it as his own, as if the regulation is controlling the person, so this is a relatively controlled form of internalized extrinsic motivation, 2. Identification: when people identify with the value of a behaviour for their own goals, in this stage there is more freedom, the behaviour reflects an aspect of the actor, and 3. Integration: this is the fullest form of internalization; it involves the integration of an identification with other aspects of oneself. Integrated regulation does not become intrinsic motivation, because the person is not interested in the activity because they enjoy it, but the activity is merely instrumentally important for their personal goals. Both intrinsic and integrated extrinsic motivation are autonomous. For a graphical overview of the self-determination theory, see Figure 1.

Some basic psychological needs need to be fulfilled in order for a behaviour to become internalized. In order to achieve introjections, the needs for relatedness and competence need to be met. In order to achieve identification and integration, also the need for autonomy needs to be met. According to self-determination theory, a need is a universal necessity, it is a nutriment that is essential for optimal human development. Wellbeing can thus be predicted by the extent to which people have satisfied these needs. So, the work climate should promote the satisfaction of the needs for relatedness (e.g. endorsement by others), competence (e.g. meaningful feedback) and autonomy (e.g. provide a choice). This will enhance intrinsic motivation and promote the internalization of extrinsic motivation. These basic needs provide the basis for predicting which aspects of a social context will support intrinsic motivation and facilitate the internalization of extrinsic motivation. For example: autonomy-supportive interpersonal environments that provide a meaningful rationale for doing the task, acknowledgement that people might not find the task interesting, and an emphasis on choice rather than control. The more of these are present, the more internalization will occur. Furthermore, for the internalization of extrinsic motivation, you need structures, limits, contingencies, and endorsement of behaviour by others, for intrinsic motivation you don’t need those. Another factor that needs to be considered is interpersonal differences in the general tendency to be autonomy oriented (which corresponds to autonomous motivation), control oriented (which corresponds to controlled motivation), or impersonally oriented (which corresponds to a-motivation).


The relation of self-determination theory to other theories of work motivation
All previous motivation theories focus on motivation as a single variable that varies in amount, not in type (as is the case in self-determination theory).

  • Goal-setting theory: people’s goal representations are the cause of behaviour, and performance will be maximized when they set specific, difficult goals with high valence and understand which behaviour will lead to the goal. Furthermore, one needs to feel competent. This theory does not differentiate types of motivation or goals.

  • Action regulation theory: this theory emphasizes mechanisms that keep people focused on goal-direction action. Decision latitude (which is essentially autonomy) is introduced, which promotes intrinsic motivation.

  • Kanfer’s task specific motivation: this is also a unitary conception of motivation, which is affected by distal (e.g. the utility of doing a task) and proximal factors (e.g. self-monitoring). There is a great focus on task performance, while self-determination theory focuses more on both well-being and performance outcomes. Also, self-determination theory can better predict different types of performance (algorithmic versus heuristic).

  • Job characteristics theory: according to this theory, the optimal job should provide variety, freedom, and meaningful feedback, it should involve completion of a whole, and have a positive impact on the lives of others. This all should facilitate intrinsic work motivation. Self-determination theory states that these indeed promote autonomous motivation, but it adds that management styles should also be autonomy-supportive. Furthermore, job characteristics theory states that the strength of basic psychological needs is an individual difference, while self-determination theory states that everyone needs to satisfy the same basic needs. People just differ in their causality orientation.

  • Needs and motives: earlier theories developed hierarchical ordering of needs (e.g. Maslov, Herzberg). Self-determination theory also uses the concepts of needs and its effect on performance and well-being, but it adds regulatory processes that direct behaviour. So, not only a focus on how behaviour is energized, but also how it is directed.

  • Kelman’s theory of internalization and the concept of identification: The focus here is on identification with other people (you will be inclined to engage in behaviour endorsed by the person you identify yourself with). In self-determination theory, the focus in on identifying with values and behaviours and internalizing them (so, not on identifying with someone else). Also, the resulting behaviour can still be controlled or autonomous, and Kelman’s theory does not address this.

  • Organizational commitment: O’Reilly & Chatman state that there are three forms of organizational commitment: 1. Identification with the organization (in self-determination theory: introjected motivation), 2. Internalization of the organization’s values (in self-determination theory: autonomous extrinsic motivation: identification or integration), and 3. Compliance (in self-determination theory: external regulation). Allen & Meyer introduce affective commitment, which is the identification with, emotional attachment to, and involvement in the organization (in self-determination theory: autonomous motivation: identification, integration or intrinsic motivation).


Self-determination theory in organizations
Research has confirmed that autonomy-supportive work environments and managerial methods promote basic need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation and the internalization of extrinsic motivation, which leads to persistence, performance, job satisfaction, positive work attitudes, organizational commitment and psychological well-being. Autonomous motivation is especially important for the completion of complex tasks, and internalized extrinsic motivation for uninteresting tasks that are important and require discipline. Even though there is a lot of support from lab and field studies, research needs to be done in organizational settings to provide support.


Relation of self-determination theory to other organizational behaviour research questions

  • Organizational citizenship (voluntary behaviours that are not recognized by the formal reward structure) can be linked to autonomous motivation, because it predicts volunteering and pro-social behaviour.

  • Performance-satisfaction relation: research has shown a modest positive relation between job performance and job satisfaction. Self-determination theory adds moderators to this relationship: it states that job aspects (such as complexity, challenge, importance and choice), an autonomous causality orientation, and autonomy-supportive climates lead to autonomous motivation, which results in good performance and satisfaction.

  • Rewards seem to undermine intrinsic motivation. Self-determination theory states that this is not always true; equitable rewards in an autonomy-supportive climate, by an autonomy-supportive manager, with a function to acknowledge competence can actually enhance intrinsic motivation.


Promoting extrinsic motivation in the workplace
Some factors are discussed that promote extrinsic motivation in the workplace:

  • Enlarge jobs: either horizontally (more activities, meaningfulness) or vertically (more planning, decision making, problem solving). This can effectively convey the importance of the work.

  • Autonomy-support: provide choice, take the employees’ perspectives, encourage self-initiation, provide a meaningful rationale for uninteresting behaviour.

  • Relatedness: allow interdependence among employees and encourage identification with work groups.

Thus, enable employees to experience meaningfulness, competence, self-determination and impact in their working environments.


Figure 1: Schematic overview of the self-determination theory





























Literature Lecture 3: The dark side of power


Destructive leadership behaviour: A definition and conceptual model (Einarsen, Schanke Aasland, & Skogstad, 2007)


Leadership research has focused on effective leadership, assuming that the absence of success factors in leaders leads to ineffective leadership. This might not be the case: employees report bullying, theft, sabotage and corruption among their leaders. Understanding and preventing destructive leadership is therefore very important.


A definition of destructive leadership
The definition of destructive leadership that is described in this article is as follows: “The systematic and repeated behaviour by a leader that violates the legitimate interest of the organization by undermining or sabotaging its goals and the motivation, well-being and/or satisfaction of subordinates”. Note: it includes behaviour aimed at both the organization and the subordinates, both physical and verbal, active and passive, direct and indirect. The three most important elements of destructive leadership are:

  1. Systematic and repeated. People make mistakes, and so the definition excludes isolated misbehaviour.

  2. No call for intent. The behaviour does not have to be intentional, as long as the outcome undermines subordinates and/or the organization (e.g. through thoughtlessness, insensitivity or incompetence).

  3. Legitimate interest of the organization. Legitimate is what is lawful, justifiable, and in the best interest of the organization (violating this can be illegal, immoral, or deviant). What is legitimate depends on the legal, historic and cultural context of an organization.


A conceptual model of leadership behaviour
Leadership behaviour can be described on the basis of two axes: the extent to which behaviour is anti or pro-organization, and the extent to which behaviour is anti or pro-subordinates. This results in a quadrant of leadership types (for a schematic overview, see Figure 2). Each leadership type will be discussed:

  1. Tyrannical. Tyrannical leadership undermines the motivation, well-being and satisfaction of subordinates without being destructive to the goals of the organization. For example: humiliation, belittlement, aggression, manipulation of subordinates with a strong emphasis on task completion. Upper management may tolerate such a leader.

  2. Derailed. Derailed leadership involves both anti-subordinate behaviours (intimidation, bullying) and anti-organization behaviours (laziness, absenteeism, fraud, lack of management skills).

  3. Supportive-disloyal. Supportive-disloyal leadership involves consideration for the subordinates while violating the legitimate interest of the organization by undermining task and goal attainment (e.g. granting more benefits than obliged at the cost of the organization, accepting theft). A reason for this type of leadership is that the leaders have different visions or lack strategic competence.

  4. Constructive. Constructive leaders are concerned with the welfare of subordinates while being focused on goal attainment for the legitimate interests of the organization. This is the ideal leader.


Additional comment: passive leadership (also known as laissez-faire leadership) falls into one of the three destructive leadership types because it can violate the interests of the organization (e.g. stealing time) and it can undermine the motivation, well-being and satisfaction of subordinates (e.g. failing to guide them). Which type it is depends on how the passive leadership is enacted.

Figure 2: conceptual model of leadership behaviour














When the boss feels inadequate: Power, competence and aggression (Fast & Chen, 2009)


The main question that this article is trying to answer is: when are power holders most likely to behave aggressively, and why do they do so?


Power and self-perceived incompetence
Power is defined as a disproportionate control over others’ outcomes as a result of the capacity to allocate rewards and punishments. Self-perceived incompetence is defined as the perception of one’s personal ability to be influential. Power increases the degree to which individuals feel that they need to be competent. If power holders perceive themselves as incompetent, they might display aggression as a result of ego defensiveness.


Study 1
Self-report scales for power, incompetence and aggression are used to test the hypothesis. Result: incompetence was only associated with aggression among high-power people. And power was only associated with aggression among highly incompetent people. However, this is just correlation. In the next study, power and competence were manipulated. 


Study 2
Power and competence (2 x 2 design) were manipulated with writing tasks: participants had to write a short story about a situation in which they were high or low in power, and high or low in competence. Aggression was measured with willingness to administrate loud noises to future participants (they had to select a volume). Results: incompetent, high power people showed more aggression than competent, high power people and incompetent, low power people. In the low power condition, there were no effects of competence.


Study 3
In this study, all participants were in the high power condition (again manipulated with a writing task). Participants were asked to rate their own competence and were then given positive or negative feedback. This was done to test whether or not aggression is the result of ego defensiveness; if a participant was given positive feedback, then his/her self-worth should get a boost, hereby reducing the need to defend the ego. Finally, aggression was measured as the willingness to harm a subordinate through the means of sabotage. Results: pairing power with incompetence was linked to more aggression. However, giving participants an ego-boost related to their leadership aptitude eliminated this effect. Thus: the hypothesized link to ego defensiveness seems feasible.


Study 4
In the final study, work-related power was measured, and competence was manipulated with a writing task. Next, half of the participants were given a generic self-affirmation, and the other half was given no affirmation. Finally, aggression was measured with a questionnaire. Results: again, self-perceived incompetence increases aggression among high-power participants. But this effect is eliminated when self-affirmation was possible. Thus, again: the hypothesized link to ego defensiveness seems feasible. Practically speaking, this means that if you want to reduce aggression in the workplace, then providing self-affirmation to reduce ego defensiveness might be a solution. So, after all, sucking up to the boss might actually work! In Figure 3, the concept of this article (given that one is high in power) is shown in a schematic overview.


Figure 3: Schematic overview of the main idea of the article by Fast & Chen
























Holding onto power: Effects of power holders’ positional instability and expectancies on interactions with subordinates (Georgeson & Harris, 2006).


The main question of this article is: why do the powerful derogate subordinates? Specifically, the role of positional insecurity and negative expectancies about the subordinate are investigated.


Effects of power on social perception
Power is defined as the amount of unshared control possessed by one person over another person (e.g. rewards and punishments). Legitimate power is power in a relationship that is structured such that one member of the relationship has the right to control the behaviours of a subordinate other (definition by French & Raven). The effects of holding power are self-enhancement and other-derogation. In this article, the authors try to identify factors that cause these adverse effects of power.


Theoretical perspectives

  • The metaphoric effects of power: because power holders have the opportunity to influence others, they come to believe that they are personally responsible for any positive actions executed by their subordinates.

  • System justification theory: social hierarchies are maintained because there is a strong motive to defend and justify the status quo and bolster the legitimacy of the existing social order. Especially for power holders because they benefit from it.

  • Social dominance theory: social hierarchies can be explained through both individual differences in social dominance orientation and institutional discrimination. Hierarchy legitimizing myths (e.g. “the less powerful deserve their low position”) maintain certain privileged positions.


The role of threat in power hierarchies
People in power positions are more likely to hold negative impressions of subordinates than vice versa because in order to justify their position, power holders need to feel that subordinates are less deserving of resources. The authors propose that this tendency would be stronger when their position is threatened (thus, when there is an unstable power position).


The self-fulfilling nature of legitimizing myths
Negative expectancies often operate as self-fulfilling prophecies, especially when the perceiver has more power than the target. This could be because power holders stereotype the subordinates, hereby failing to engage in individual processing, making them unable to detect expectancy-incongruent behaviour.


Study and hypotheses
Power role, positional threat, and expectancies were manipulated. It is hypothesized that positional threat and negative expectancies will both have negative effects on the interaction with a subordinate. The combination of both would hypothetically be the most dangerous.


Method & Procedure
Participants were assigned to the role of boss or employee (the boss gets to allocate a 55 dollar prize). Half of the bosses were told that the interaction (which was a problem-solving task) would be observed and if the boss did a poor job, the roles would be reversed (hereby, positional threat was manipulated). Only the bosses were informed about the problem-solving skills of their employees, which were either good or poor (hereby, expectancies were manipulated). The dependent variables were the goals of the interaction, measured with a questionnaire (was their main goal to control the interaction, to focus on their partner, to achieve the best outcome, to maintain their role… etc.). Next, the boss and the employee were brought together to solve a problem. After five minutes, they were separated and given a questionnaire containing a thought-listing measure. Finally, they were brought together again for 15 minutes after which they were again separated and asked to fill out a questionnaire about their opinions about their partner and the interaction, and the boss was asked to allocate the 55 dollar prize.


Pre-interaction                                                                                                                       When power was unstable, and the boss had negative expectations, they had more negative goals for the interaction. When power is secure, then high expectations about the employees are welcomed (the boss exerted less control over the situation). But, when power is unstable, bosses are threatened by high expectancy employees and thus they want to control the situation more in order to maintain their position.


During interaction                                                                                                            Through the thought-listing procedure, it was found that bosses with negative expectancies about their subordinates reported more negative thoughts. When power is unstable, then negative expectancies result in more negative thoughts than positive expectancies. Bosses with negative expectancies also devoted fewer thoughts to the task than bosses with positive expectations.


Post-interaction                                                                                                                        First of all, there was evidence of subordinate derogation: bosses held more negative views of the interaction than employees did. There was also evidence of the self-fulfilling prophecy: dyads in the positive expectation condition rated the interaction more positively than dyads in the negative expectation condition. Under the circumstances of unstable power, negative expectancies led to a less positive view of the interaction than positive expectancies. Furthermore, when the bosses were allowed to allocate the money, depressive entitlement was shown: bosses gave employees less money than employees gave to bosses. Under the circumstances of unstable power and negative expectations, less money was allocated to the employee compared to unstable power and positive expectations. Striking: employees also gave the most money to a boss who had unstable power and negative expectations. In line with system justification theory, unstable power bosses asserted more strongly that they deserved to be in power. Bosses with negative expectations also felt they deserved to be boss more than bosses with positive expectations. Under the circumstances of unstable power, bosses experienced more evaluation anxiety, especially when expectations were positive. Finally, employees whose boss had positive expectations of them felt that the boss was more effective than when they had negative expectations of them (self-fulfilling prophecy).


Holding negative expectations about their subordinates resulted in a wide range of negative thoughts and attitudes from the bosses: they thought they deserved to be boss more, reported more negative thoughts about their partner, evaluated the partner and the interaction more negatively, and allocated less money to the subordinate. The self-fulfilling prophecy was apparent: employees picked up the negative expectations and evaluated the interaction and their own performance more negatively, so strong that they also allocated more money to the boss.                                        

Unstable power bosses felt that they deserved to be boss more, intended to control the interaction more, rated the interaction more negatively and were more anxious than stable power bosses. When unstable power is paired with positive expectations, the bosses had even more desire to control the situation and maintain the boss-position, but they also evaluated the subordinate’s contribution to the interaction more positively. When unstable power is paired with negative expectations, the greatest amount of negative behaviour is enacted by the boss, so this is the most damaging condition. The bosses position depends on how well the team performs, thus, negative expectations are bad news. So, the bosses have less positive goals for the interaction, evaluate the interaction more negatively, express more negative thoughts, and gave the least amount of money to the subordinates. Employees also felt that they deserved less money in this case (which is called depressive entitlement): the employees attributed the outcome to themselves; they don’t see the situational constraints and blame themselves for it (which is the fundamental attribution error).                                  

The implications of this research is that so-called “up or out” management may have harmful effects: employees in unstable power positions may work harder, but they experience more negative affect and can sabotage the work of their subordinates and thereby also their own performance.

Sexual overperception: Power, mating motives, and biases in social judgment (Kunstman & Maner, 2011)


The main question that this article is trying to answer is: why does power promote sexual cognition and behaviour towards subordinates? The main hypothesis is that power activates a motivational state associated with mating, and hereby, power elicits motivated biases in sexual perception (e.g. that others are sexually interested in them).


Power and goal pursuit
Power is defined as one’s control over group resources and the ability to influence others by manipulating access to those resources. Power leads to approach and goal pursuit, in part because the powerful have access to resources and because they suffer fewer obstacles like punishment. A first step in goal pursuit is attending to goal-relevant cues.


Power and mating motivation
Proposition: Those in power will be especially likely to pursue goals related to sex and mating. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Mating goals are closely related to the approach system.

  2. There is a cognitive link between power and sex.

  3. Evolution: dominant individuals have more access to sexual mates.

Power, mating motivation and sexual perception
The functionalist approach states that the activation of a goal leads to biases in social perception: you see others in ways that satisfy your goals. Power activates mating motives and thus it promotes heightened perceptions of sexual interest (this is functionally related to the goal).

Moderators of sexual perceptions
In this article, the authors focus on three potential moderating variables in the power-sex relation. This can help to distinguish motivated cognitive processes from other cognitive phenomena.

  1. Temporal delay: motivated processes tend to remain active even after some delay, so, the activation of sexual concepts should persist across time delay.

  2. Attainability of the goal: Motivation = goal value + attainability. So, manipulate attainability and see what happens. The expectation is that power will only lead to expectations of sexual interest when the subordinate is attainable (romantically available, that is).

  3. Individual differences in chronic mating goals: the power-sexual perception link will be stronger among individuals for whom sexual goals are chronically active (sexually unrestricted individuals).

The effect of gender remains unclear, because it could go either way: maybe the power-sex link is stronger among men because they are more motivated to strive for power and use it for sexual gratification. On the other hand, there might not be a difference between men and women once the mating motive is activated.


Study 1
Main question: does power activate a mating motive? Participants were assigned to either a power or a control group and they encountered either a delay or no delay. The dependent variable was a word stem completion task. Results: participants with power created more sexual words, regardless of time. So, power does indeed activate mating motives which results in a high degree of sexual cognition.


Study 2
Main question: does power increase expectations of sexual interest? Participants were again assigned to a power or a control condition (in which positive feedback was given). They were shown a short film clip of their partner. The dependent variable was the first impression they had of their partner, perceived sexual interest and general liking measures. Results: participants in the power condition expected greater sexual interest from their partner, not general liking.


Study 3
Main question: Does goal attainability moderate the relationship that is shown in study 2? Participants were again assigned to a power or a control condition. They received a video message from their partner, in which the partner either stated that they were “engaged to be married”, or “single and looking to meet someone”. The dependent variable was the first impression the participant had of their partner, their perceived sexual interest and general liking. Results: power only increased sexual interest when the partner was single, not when the partner was engaged to be married. So, attainability of the goal moderates the effects of power on perceived sexual interest.


Study 4
In the final study, participants were divided into opposite-sex dyads in which there was either a power situation (leader versus subordinate) or a control situation (positive feedback versus no feedback). The task was to build a figure from Lego blocks. Afterwards, general liking, perceived sexual interest, actual sexual interest, individual differences in sexual attitudes (restricted versus unrestricted) and likelihood to sexually harass were measured. Also, sexualized behaviour was rated by two independent coders who observed the interaction. Results: being in power increased sexual perceptions (not: general liking) among unrestricted individuals (who are looking for short-term sexual relationships). Fact of the matter is that being in power actually decreased sexual perceptions for restricted individuals (who are more conservative in their sexual attitudes). This study also proofed that it is indeed sexual overperception: among sexually unrestricted participants, power increased perceptions of sexual interest over and above any increases in partners’ actual sexual interest. This study also showed that power increases sexually tinged behaviour among dyads with unrestricted leaders, even after controlling for the partners’ actual sexual interest. So, power leads to sexual behaviour through sexual overperception among unrestricted leaders.



  • Power increases sexual perception

  • This effect is pronounced only in sexually unrestricted participants

  • This effect is observed after controlling for actual sexual interest

  • This effect mediates increases in sexual behaviour

  • This effect is specific to sexual perception, not general liking

  • Men and women responded similarly to a power position, so gender did not mediate the effects


An important implication of this research is that building insights in those with power can help to overcome the effects of power on sexual harassment (for example).


Figure 4: Schematic overview of the results of the research by Kunstman & Maner, 2011





Literature Lecture 4: Power

From power to action (Galinsky, Gruenfeld, & Magee, 2003)

The main proposition that is advocated in this article is that power leads directly to action. Power is not only an aspect of the social structure; it is also a cognitive structure that can be activated by an environmental stimulus.

Power is defined as the ability to control resources, own and others’, without social interference. This is also called social power because one can influence others’ behaviour by assigning resources or evaluating them.

The main question that the authors are trying to answer here is: Does the possession and experience of power lead individuals toward action?

The reasons why they think it would are as follows:

  • Because the powerful experience less social constraints, they have more opportunities for action.

  • Power activates the behavioural approach system.

  • Power leads to disinhibition: you can express what you feel.

  • Power leads to less deliberation: when you are free of doubt, you can act!


Power is also seen as a psychological state, so activating a concept of power should activate the behavioural tendencies associated with power (action), even outside a power context.


Experiment 1
Participants were assigned to three conditions: manager, subordinate, or the control condition. Then, they played a blackjack game: when the total is 16, do they take another card or not? Results: managers had an increased tendency to take action in the blackjack game compared to subordinates and the controls. But, because power was based on structural position, the action might be due to role-prescriptive behaviour or decreased cognitive capacity.


Experiment 2
In experiment 2, participants were asked to recall an instance in which they were powerful or powerless. They were placed in a room in which there was an annoying fan that blew in their face, the dependent variable was whether or not the participant took action and removed the fan, even when it was ambiguous as to whether this action was allowed. Results: the powerful removed the fan more often than the powerless. So, the possession of power increased the tendency toward action on the fan, hereby satisfying the goal of reducing physical discomfort (so, it is goal-directed action).


Experiment 3
Proposition: power will increase action independent of its social consequences. Specifically, power will lead to taking in a commons dilemma (which has negative consequences) and giving in a public goods dilemma (which has positive consequences). Design: high power versus low power versus control group (writing task) x type of dilemma (commons or public good). Also, mood was assessed. Results: activating high power increases the tendency to take action independent of its social consequences; taking from a commonly shared resource in a commons dilemma and contributing to a commonly shared resource in a public goods dilemma. There were no effects of mood found.

In experiment 2 and 3, participants who were asked to write about being in power also wrote down more action-related words compared to those writing about having no power. However, the semantic priming hypothesis does not hold: it is power that predicts action, not the semantic priming.


The possession and experience of power leads directly to the taking of action:

  • Even when power and action are functionally independent (experiment 1)

  • It can be in the service of personal distress (experiment 2)

  • Action taking isn’t always out of self-interest (experiment 3)

The effects of role-prescribed behaviour and cognitive load were eliminated. Plus: it really is the presence of power that leads to action, more than that the absence of power leads to inaction.

Why does power lead to action again?

  • It is a product of learning, condition and the environment

  • It activates the behavioural approach system (goal-directed behaviour, positive mood) and it increases attention to one’s desires

  • It allows action that promotes the successful completion of goals

Priming power can be conceptual through the activation of mental representations, states, goals, stereotypes and spreading activation. But is can also be a mind-set, with procedural knowledge, it is a way of thinking, a way to approach the world. In this article, power is primed as a mind-state.


Power, approach and inhibition (Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003)

This article is an integrative account of the effects of power on behaviour. The authors propose that power is associated with reward-rich environments and freedom, which results in approach-related positive affect, attention to rewards, automatic cognition and disinhibited behaviour. On the other hand, reduced power is associated with threat, punishment and social constraints, which results in inhibition-related negative affect, systematic cognition and situationally constraint behaviour.


Defining power
Power is defined as an individual’s relative capacity to modify others’ states by providing or withholding resources or administering punishments. Resources and punishments can be material (food, money, harm or job termination) or social (knowledge, friendship, verbal abuse). The value of those resources depends on other individuals’ dependence upon them. In this definition of power (the capacity to change others’ states), power is present in almost all contexts.

Empirical traditions have focused on the origins of power, concomitants of power, and the consequences of power. In this article, it is analyzed how power produces variation in the behaviour of the actor.


Consequences of power
Kipnis has shown that powerful managers value subordinates less, attribute subordinate efforts to their own control and desire great distance from the subordinates. So, glorious self-concepts of the managers thrive while subordinates are denigrated. Thus, the possession of power changes the powerholder.

Chen, Lee-Chai & Bargh state that power enhances the expression of trait-consistent behaviour, so this can be both positive and negative.

In the current article, it is stated that power activates the behavioural approach system without conscious awareness of its effects. Additionally, the power-vigilance hypothesis is emphasized: high power individuals are less motivated to attend to others carefully, while low power individuals do attend to others (they have to).

Power, approach and inhibition
There are several determinants of power:

  • Individual variables: extraversion, dominance, social skills, charisma, muscular men, attractiveness, a prominent jaw line etc.

  • Dyadic variables: others’ interest, investment, and commitment to the relationship; do they value what you offer? And can they get it elsewhere?

  • Within-group variables: authority role and status

  • Between-group variables: Social-Economic Status (SES), class, ethnicity, gender, etc.

Together, these factors determine whether a person is high in resources and freedom (high power) or low in resources and high in constraints (low power),

The social consequences of power are also described in this article:                                   High power leads to approach:

  • attention to rewards

  • positive emotions

  • automatic cognition

  • disinhibited behaviour driven by states or traits


Low power leads to inhibition:

  • attention to threats

  • negative emotion

  • controlled cognition

  • inhibited behaviour driven by the situation


Elevated power leads to approach because power is correlated with increased resources (financial resources, food, beauty, health, esteem and attraction), and because power makes it possible to act without interference or social consequences.

Next, more specific propositions that follow from this reasoning are discussed.


Power and affect
Proposition 1: Elevated power increases the experience and expression of positive affect. This is the case because positive affect facilitates the pursuit of approach-related goals. Among positive affect is positive mood, desire, enthusiasm and pride.

Proposition 2: Reduced power increases the experience and expression of negative affect: anxious, depressive mood, embarrassment, fear, guilt and shame.


Power and social attention
Proposition 3: Elevated power increases sensitivity to rewards. Approach is facilitated by attending to rewards and means to obtain those rewards. The powerful will also see more rewards and opportunities in ambiguous situations.

Proposition 4: Reduced power increases the sensitivity to threat and punishment. Reduced power also increases selective attention to threats and punishments. Individuals with less power will also interpret ambiguous events as more threatening.

Proposition 5: Elevated power increases the tendency to view others as a means to one’s own ends.

Proposition 6: Reduced power increases the tendency to view the self as a means of others’ ends.


Power and social cognition
Proposition 7: Elevated power increases the automaticity of social cognition. Automatic social cognition is rapid, effortless, and associated with the use of heuristics and simple rules. So, the powerful are likely to judge others less accurately. Automatic cognition leads to dispositional attributions without consideration of situational factors.

Proposition 8: Reduced power increases controlled social cognition. Controlled social cognition is deliberate, effortful and involves the consideration of multiple response options and stimulus characteristics. So, low-power individuals more carefully scrutinize the actions of others, and are more accurate in judging others. They also reason in more complex ways because they are concerned about the consequences of their actions. Controlled cognition leads to more situational attributions.

In terms of collective actions, high-power individuals attribute joint outcomes to their own actions while low-power individuals attribute them to the actions of others.


Power and social behaviour
Proposition 9: Elevated power increases the likelihood of approach-related behaviour. For example, powerful individuals are more likely to approach subordinates at interpersonal distances than indicate intimacy than powerless individuals. Power also disinhibits sexual behaviour.

Proposition 10: Reduced power increases behavioural inhibition. For example, inhibition of direct expression of ideas, inhibition of posture, reduced gestures, inhibited speech, inhibited facial muscle action to hide emotions (such as lip biting) and more withdrawal during group projects.

Proposition 11: Elevated power increases consistency and coherence of social behaviour. This is because the powerful behave in a state- and trait-consistent manner. States: smiles correlate with self reported pleasure. Traits: when exchange oriented, self-serving behaviour is enhanced, when communally oriented, altruistic behaviour is enhanced. Thus: personality traits predict social behaviour among the powerful. The actions of low power individuals are much more situationally contingent.

Proposition 12: Elevated power increases the likelihood of socially inappropriate behaviour, because the powerful are less likely to attend to others are more likely to approach rewards. For example: gambling, drinking, sexual behaviours, violation of politeness-norms, aggression, sexual harassment, hate crimes, rape etc. but also pro-social behaviours like mediating conflicts, helping in emergencies and the expression of affection.


Moderators of the effects of power on affect, cognition, and behaviour
Factors that reduce the freedom with which the powerful can act should dampen approach-related tendencies. Three processes that act as constraints are discussed below:

  1. Stability of power relations and perceived threat. Events that threaten the legitimacy of those in power or enhance the legitimacy of less powerful people destabilize social hierarchies. Such a threat reduces the freedom with which the powerful can act, and this activates the behavioural inhibition system in powerful individuals: they experience more negative feelings, more attention to others, more systematic cognition and inhibited behaviour. There are also effects on the powerless: they are more likely to speak out when the dominant view is threatened.

  2. Accountability. The sense that one’s actions are personally identifiable and subject to the evaluations of others acts as a constraint on unchecked power. When accountable, the powerful are more likely to consider social consequences and take others into account, so: more inhibition in affect, cognition, and behaviour.

  3. Individual and cultural differences: Individuals who are predisposed to approach-related behaviour (extraversion and dominance) will conform to the pattern of power-related affect, cognition, and behaviour. Introverted, inhibited individuals will be less vulnerable to the disinhibiting effects of power. Cultures defined by high power distances facilitate disinhibition in the powerful and inhibition in the powerless. Low power distance cultures should moderate these effects.


Equality versus differentiation: the effects of power dispersion on group interaction (Greer & van Kleef, 2010)


Power dispersion is the difference among group members’ power (in Dutch it is: de verspreiding van macht). The main question that the authors are trying to answer is: when does power dispersion facilitate group interactions? And when does it harm group interactions? Power is again defined as the capacity to modify others’ states.

There is conflicting literature on the topic of power dispersion: on the one hand, high power dispersion (when one member of the group has a lot more power than others in the group) can be beneficial to conflict solution, it can serve as a heuristic for the distribution of resources and it facilitates coordination. On the other hand, high power dispersion can also impair conflict resolution, because it can create feelings of inequality and injustice and heighten intergroup competition. This suggests that equality (low power dispersion) may be better. Both views can be reconciled by taking the power level of the group into account. Group power is the capacity of a group to modify others’ states in the broader collective. It is calculated as the average individual power of all group members. The authors propose that when group power is low (as in a factory team), high power dispersion will facilitate group interaction. However, when group power is high (as in a top management team), low power dispersion (more equality) will facilitate group interaction. The most important outcome in this study in conflict resolution. Also, it is identified when power struggles are most likely to occur, namely in groups with low power and low power dispersion and in groups with high power and high power dispersion. In these cases, members are dissatisfied with the current hierarchical structure, and power struggles follow.


The role of power level
The first hypothesis is that when high power dispersion is combined with low group power will lead to increased conflict resolution, but when it is paired with high group power, it will decrease conflict solution. In the second hypothesis, it is suggested that power struggles mediate the relationship that is suggested in hypothesis 1. More specifically, it is hypothesized that low power dispersion and low group power lead to more power struggles, which in turn leads to worse conflict resolution. So, low power groups need high power dispersion because they accept hierarchies, which reduces the likelihood of a power struggle, which in turn leads to better conflict resolution. On the other hand, high power dispersion coupled with a high power group leads to more power struggles because high power groups are competitive and/or want to achieve or maintain power, this leads to worse conflict resolution. So, high power groups need low power dispersion (more equality) to commit to the task and work openly together with others, it reduces power struggles and leads to better conflict resolution.


Study 1
In the first study, 42 pre-existing work groups were given an information-sharing task in which members were given unique pieces of information. The power level was measured as the average position of the group members (from 1 = low to 5 = high). Power dispersion is the standard deviation of the group members’ power level. Intragroup power struggle was rated by independent coders of the videotaped interaction. Conflict resolution was also rated by coders and measured with self-report questionnaires. Results: hypothesis 1 was confirmed: power dispersion is positively related to conflict resolution for low-power groups, but negatively related for high power groups. Hypothesis 2 was also supported: there were more power struggles when there was high group power and high power dispersion. There were less power struggles when there was low group power and high power dispersion. Power struggles mediate the relationship between power dispersion, group power and conflict resolution.


Study 2
This study took place in a laboratory setting. Both power dispersion and group power level were manipulated: each participant was given a label (consultant, senior consultant, manager, senior manager) and was coupled with another participant. The following combinations resulted from this:

  • High power dispersion and low power = consultant coupled with a senior consultant

  • Low power dispersion and low power = consultant coupled with another consultant or senior consultant coupled with another senior consultant

  • High power dispersion and high power = manager coupled with senior manager

  • Low power dispersion and high power = manager coupled with another manager or senior manager coupled with another senior manager

Each person was given a preference table with their position on 5 topics and they had to negotiate about these topics within the dyads. Power struggles were assessed with self-report measures. Conflict resolution was measured with self-report measures and the quality of the final agreement (the joint outcome points).

Results: hypothesis 1 was supported: both low power and high power dispersion and high power and low power dispersion resulted in better conflict resolution. Hypothesis 2 was also supported: there were more power struggles in low power groups with low power dispersion and in high power groups with high power dispersion. These power struggles negatively affected the joint outcomes.


  • High power dispersion is best in low power teams

  • Low power dispersion is best in high power teams

  • Otherwise (high power dispersion in high power teams and low power dispersion in low power teams), power struggles will occur which negatively affect conflict resolution

Literature Lecture 5: Mood and Emotions in Leadership


When leaders display emotion: how followers respond to negative emotional expressions of male and female leaders (Lewis, 2000)


The topic of this article is: the consequences of negative emotional expressions by a chief executive officer on followers. Specifically, the consequences on emotional arousal in the follower and ratings of leader effectiveness are investigated.


Leadership and expression of emotions
Previous research has shown that some emotional traits are related to leadership effectiveness. For example, emotional balance and control, emotional intelligence, and showing an appropriate emotional expression can show self-confidence and integrity and reflect a leader’s ability to respond in an effective way.

The expression of positive emotions like enthusiasm and satisfaction can motivate followers. In this study, the authors looks at two negative emotions, namely sadness (which is a passive emotion), and anger (which is an active emotion). Followers can be emotionally influenced by the expression of a leader through emotional contagion: they cognitively process the emotional expression, sometimes they empathize or they respond based on prior emotional experiences, or they mimic the emotion that is expressed by the leader.

The hypothesized effects of sadness and anger on followers are based on the circumplex model of affect:

  • A leader expressing sadness (passive negative emotion) versus no emotional expression will result in lower arousal (fatigue) and less positive arousal (enthusiasm).

  • A leader expressing anger (active negative) versus no emotional expression will result in more negative activation (nervousness) and less low activation (relaxation).

Overall, it is hypothesized that the expression of emotion in general (in this case: anger or sadness) will be considered to represent poor judgment of the leader. Expressing sadness and anger is outside leader norm roles because it represents a lack of emotional control and a lack of self-confidence. So, it is hypothesized that CEO’s using negative emotions will be seen as less effective than leaders using neutral emotional expressions.

The role of gender and gender-stereotypes is important in the assessment of leaders who display emotions. Women are evaluated as less effective when exhibiting a more masculine style of expressions (here: anger). Men are evaluated as less effective when exhibiting a more feminine style of expressions (here: sadness). Specifically, the expression of non-gender endorsed emotion is proposed to result in lower leader effectiveness. So, it is hypothesized that:

  • Female leaders who display anger are seen as less effective than female leaders who display neutral emotional expressions.

  • Female leaders who display sadness are seen as less effective than female leaders who display neutral emotional expressions.

  • Female leaders who display sadness are seen as more effective compared to those who display anger.

  • Male leaders who display sadness are seen as less effective than male leaders who display neutral emotional expressions.

  • Male leaders who display anger are seen as less effective then male leaders who display neutral emotional expressions.

  • Male leaders who display anger are seen as more effective compared to those who display sadness. 


The design was a 2 (actor gender: male or female) x 3 (emotion: neutral, anger, or sadness) design. Each participant was shown a film clip in which a CEO level leader described a negative situation (a bad financial year) and displayed one of the emotions. The dependent variables were: follower affect (measured with the Job Affect Scale), the assessment of leader effectiveness and manipulation checks.


When observing a leader displaying anger (active negative emotion), participants indeed experienced more negative activation (nervousness) and less low activation (relaxation) compared to sadness or a neutral emotional expression. When observing a leader displaying sadness (passive negative emotion), participants indeed experienced less positive arousal (enthusiasm) and lower arousal (fatigue) compared to anger or a neutral emotional expression.

Furthermore, a main effect of leader emotional tone on leader effectiveness ratings was found: leaders expressing neutral emotions were perceived as most effective, followed by anger. Leaders expressing sadness were perceived as the least effective.

Female leaders who display anger are indeed seen as less effective than female leaders who express neutral emotions. Female leaders who displayed sadness were indeed seen as less effective than female leaders who express neutral emotions. However, female leaders who display sadness are not seen as more effective than those who display anger. So, for female leaders: neutral > sad or anger.

Male leaders who display sadness are seen as less effective than male leaders who express neutral emotions. Male leaders who display sadness are also seen as less effective than male leaders who display anger. However, male leaders who display anger or neutral expressions are seen as more effective than male leaders who display sadness. So, for male leaders: neutral or anger > sadness.


Anger may motivate to work towards improvement due to increased arousal, while sadness leads to passive acceptance due to decreased arousal. When a leader displays an emotion, it cues attributions and expectations: sadness suggests a stable cause of failure, while anger suggests an unstable, external cause.


Searing sentiment or cold calculation? The effects of leader emotional displays on team performance depend on follower epistemic motivation (van Kleef, Homan, Beersma, van Knippenberg, & Damen, 2009)


Epistemic motivation is the desire to develop a thorough understanding of the situation. The main question that the authors of this article are trying to answer is: when do positive versus negative leader emotional displays lead teams to perform better? The answer to this question is based on the emotions as social information model (EASI) that suggests that there are two distinct pathways, namely affective reactions and quality of leader’s performance.


Theoretical development and hypotheses
The social-functional approach states that emotions do not only influence the behaviour of those experiencing the emotion, but also the behaviours of others. Emotional displays evoke affective reactions in others (e.g. through emotional contagion), and they carry information (e.g. about the other’s intentions).

The EASI model (emotions as social information) suggests that there are two paths to emotional influence by leaders:

  1. By evoking affective reactions in followers, which influences performance.

  2. By providing task-relevant information to guide performance.


Hypothesis 1: Leader happiness arouses more positive affective reactions than leader anger. Hypothesis 2: Leader happiness leads to more favourable inferences regarding the quality of team members’ performance than leader anger.                                                                  But what works better to increase performance: happiness or anger? That depends on which pathway is used. The authors propose that which pathway is used depends upon the team’s level of epistemic motivation (the extent to which team members desire to develop and maintain a rich and accurate understanding of a situation). When epistemic motivation is high, task-relevant information will work best (anger works best), but when epistemic motivation is low, affective reactions will be more powerful (happiness works best). Hypothesis 3: Team performance is strongly predicted by performance inferences when epistemic motivation is high, whereas team performance is strongly predicted by affective reactions when epistemic motivation is low.                                                           Hypothesis 4: Leader’s anger leads to better performance when epistemic motivation is high, leader’s happiness leads to better performance when epistemic motivation is low.


First, participants’ epistemic motivation is measured. Then, participants were divided into interdependent teams: they took part in a computer simulation of a military situation in which they had to work together to protect a base. The “leader” (which was an actor) supposedly observed them from another room and gave the teams feedback via video clips (they expressed either happiness or anger). The text was identical in both conditions, but expressions, intonation and postures made the difference. The dependent variables were team performance (number of points in the game), post-task questionnaires (affective reactions, inferences about the quality of performance and manipulation checks). Since teams were very diverse in their composition, the team’s epistemic motivation was calculated as the mean of the team members’ scores.


Hypothesis 1 was supported: happiness resulted in more positive affective reactions than anger. Hypothesis 2 was supported: anger resulted in stronger feelings that the leader was not satisfied with the performance, compared to happiness. Hypothesis 3 was supported: performance inferences were more predictive of team performance in case of high epistemic motivation, while affective reactions were more predictive of team performance in case of low epistemic motivation. Hypothesis 4 was also supported: teams with high epistemic motivation performed better when the leader expressed anger, while teams with low epistemic motivation performed better when the leader expressed happiness. Furthermore, epistemic motivation moderated the effects of leader emotional displays on team performance.


The implications of this research are as follows:

  • Performance feedback should not be given in times of stress, because epistemic motivation is likely to be low in such a situation.

  • When epistemic motivation is low, it’s important to ensure that team members are in a good mood.

  • In order to maximize performance, leaders should match their emotional expressions to follower’s epistemic motivation.



Literature Lecture 6: Leadership and diversity (+ future avenues)


Facing differences with an open mind: openness to experience, salience of intragroup differences, and performance of diverse work groups (Homan, Hollenbeck, Humphry, van Knippenberg, Ilgen, & van Kleef, 2008)


Diversity is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it can enhance team performance due to an increase in information and knowledge; on the other hand, it can disrupt team performance due to the creation of subgroups, which hinders the use of all the available information. The main questions the authors are trying to answer is: when will the positive or the negative effects of diversity occur? Their proposition is that there are moderators that determine when and why diversity has positive or negative effects on performance, namely: salience of diversity (situational aspects), openness to experience (which is a personality factor), and information elaboration.


Literature review and hypotheses
According to the decision-making perspective, diversity has a positive influence on team functioning through information elaboration. According to the social categorization perspective, diversity has a negative influence on team functioning through subgroup formation and intergroup bias. So, there is some inconsistency in the literature. Van Knippenberg states that there is interplay between those two processes. Whether people categorize subgroups depends upon the salience of subgroups.

The salience of intragroup differences is influenced by the comparative fit of the subgroup categorization, which is the extent to which categorization results in clear between-group differences and within-group similarities. The salience of intragroup differences depends on the correlation among diversity-related variables and situational aspects such as the reward structure. The reward structure can either reinforce division of subgroups (faultlines), or it can cut across the differences (lower salience of subgroups in cross-categorization), or it can emphasize a superordinate team identity (this promotes lower intragroup differences).

There is a faultline when several dimensions of diversity converge to activate diversity faultlines, this can undermine group performance. The corresponding reward structure would be on the basis of subgroup performance.

There is a cross-categorization when group members differ on multiple dimensions that are uncorrelated, this makes social categorization hard because there is low comparative fit, which results in low salience of subgroups. The corresponding reward structure would be one that cuts through demographic differences.

There is a superordinate group identity when the group as a whole is emphasized, within-group differences become less salient because there is low comparative fit. The corresponding reward structure would be one based on group performance.

Hypothesis 1: diverse teams in which diversity is cross-cut by reward structure perform better than diverse teams in which reward structure contributes to diversity faultline.

Hypothesis 2: diverse teams in which there is a superordinate group identity perform better than diverse teams in which there is a faultline.

Openness to experience is an individual’s willingness to explore, tolerate, and consider new and unfamiliar ideas and experiences. Openness to experience should enable diverse teams to make better use of their differences and perform better.

Hypothesis 3: diverse teams in which there is high openness to experience perform better than diverse teams in which there is low openness to experience.                            

Hypothesis 4: diversity salience and openness to experience interact to predict team performance: teams in which diversity is salient (faultline and cross-categorization) will benefit more from high openness to experience, relative to teams in which diversity salience is low (superordinate group identity).

Furthermore, the authors propose that information elaboration mediates the positive effect of openness to experience in diverse teams. When you are open-minded about dissimilar others, this foster information elaboration in a diverse group, which is good.

Hypothesis 5a: Information elaboration mediates the impact of openness to experience on performance of diverse teams.                                                                                        

Hypothesis 5b: Information elaboration mediates the interactive effects of openness and diversity salience on team performance.


Four-person teams in which there were always 2 males and 2 females engaged in a Distributed Dynamic Decision-Making simulation (they had to defend a military base: every person had their own region to defend). Based on the reward structure, 3 groups were created: faultline (North team = 2 men, South team = 2 women, rewards based on subgroup performance), cross-categorization (North team = 1 man, 1 woman, South team = 1 man, 1 woman, rewards based on subgroup performance), and superordinate identity (in which there were team level rewards). Before the task, openness to experience was measured with the NEO-PI. The dependent variable was performance (the number of point in the game), and information elaboration (which was measured with a self-report scale, team scores were averaged).


Hypothesis 1 and 2 were confirmed: cross-categorization teams performed better than faultline teams, and superordinate identity teams performed better than faultline teams. So: superordinate identity > cross-categorization > faultline. Hypothesis 3 was also confirmed: high openness to experience teams performed better than low openness to experience teams. Hypothesis 4 was also confirmed: for teams in which diversity is salient (faultline and cross-categorization teams), high openness to experience promotes team performance when compared to superordinate identity teams in which diversity is not so salient. The worst performance was in the case of faultline and low openness to experience. The best performance was in the case of cross-categorization and high openness to experience. Hypothesis 5a was confirmed: there was a full mediation of information elaboration in the relationship between openness to experience and performance. Finally, hypothesis 5b was also confirmed: since differences are salient in faultline and cross-categorization conditions, information elaboration is only a mediator in these conditions, but not in the superordinate identity condition.


Conclusion: outcomes of diversity on team performance depends on the salience of this diversity and on how people feel about diversity: are they open to it or not. Practical implications of this research:

  • Select team members with high openness to experience, and then make use of cross-categorization where diversity is high but subgroups are not so salient.

  • When diverse teams have members with low openness to experience, then advocate pro-diversity beliefs or install a superordinate identity (this decreases diversity salience and prevents subgroup formation).

  • Create cross-categorization teams in which the focus is on interpersonal differences (not inter-subgroup differences).

  • Or, create a dual identity: both a superordinate identity and a subgroup identity.


The effects of leadership style and team process on performance and innovation in functionally heterogeneous teams (Somech, 2006).


The main question that the author is trying to answer is: How do participative versus directive leadership styles moderate the effects of functional heterogeneity on team reflection and processes?

Again, it is emphasized that functional heterogeneity can have both positive and negative effects on group performance. A situational factor that can influence the process and outcomes is leadership style.

The proposition in this article is that team reflection mediates the effects of functional heterogeneity and leadership style on team outcomes (that is: in-role performance and team innovation).


Conceptual background and hypotheses
Functional heterogeneity is defined as the diversity of organizational roles embodied in a team. For example when different professions from a multidisciplinary team work together. So, the heterogeneity is task-related which causes few personal conflicts.

Participative leadership is defined as a leadership style in which superiors and employees share influence in the decision making process. Directive leadership is defined as a leadership style in which the superior provides the team with a framework for decision-making based on his or her personal vision.

Team reflection is the extent to which team members reflect upon the team’s objectives, strategies and processes (e.g. questioning, debating, and reanalyzing). This serves as a tool to use the heterogeneity in knowledge to enhance team outcomes.

Team outcomes are split into two different concepts:

  • Team in-role performance is the extent to which the team accomplishes its purpose

  • Team innovation is out-of-the-box thinking: the introduction of new ideas that are designed to be useful for the team.


  1. Participative leadership will moderate the relationship between heterogeneity and team reflection, such that the relationship becomes more positive when participative leadership is high. This is because participative leaders facilitate the open exchange of ideas.

  2. Directive leadership will also moderate the relationship between team heterogeneity and team reflection, such that the relationship becomes more positive when directive leadership is high. This is because directive leaders ask more questions and repeat unshared information, and also because they provide information about a member’s competence which leads to more remarks, suggestions and solutions by the team.

  3. Team reflection will be positively related to team in-role performance and team innovation. Debating improves the team’s ability to foresee costs, benefits, and side effects, which leads to better productivity. Reflection also improves the detection of problems and the production of solutions, which implies better team innovation.

  4. a. Reflection will mediate the interactive effects of functional heterogeneity and participative leadership style on team in-role performance and innovation

b. Reflection will also mediate the interactive effects of functional heterogeneity and directive leadership style on team in-role performance and innovation.


A sample of 140 primary care teams (with a total of 1292 people of different professions) was used. They all had the same goals for providing medical care and the teams were all depending on each member for knowledge and effort. Functional heterogeneity was measured with a team composition diversity index, team reflection and leadership style were measured with team member questionnaires. Finally, also team in-role performance and team innovation were measured with manager questionnaires. The analysis unit was the team, so reflection and innovation were aggregated to the team level.


Hypothesis 1 was confirmed: there is an interaction between functional heterogeneity and participative leadership style on team reflection. High heterogeneity and high participative leadership results in high team reflection.

Hypothesis 2 was not confirmed, in fact, effects in the opposite direction were found. There is an interaction between functional heterogeneity and directive leadership style on team reflection, but it is not in the hypothesized direction. There is no difference in team reflection for high heterogeneity and high or low directive leadership. But: when there is low heterogeneity and high directive leadership, this results in high team reflection.

Hypothesis 3 was only partly confirmed: team reflection does not contribute to team in-role performance, but it does contribute to team innovation.

Hypothesis 4a was confirmed: team reflection fully mediated the interactive effects of heterogeneity and participative leadership style on team innovation.

Hypothesis 4b was no longer relevant, since the effects of directive leadership and heterogeneity were not in the predicted direction.

Additionally, the effects of leadership style on team in-role performance were investigated. It was found that high heterogeneity combined with low participative leadership style results in high in-role performance. Furthermore, high heterogeneity and high directive leadership style leads to high in-role performance. So, in order to perform well, directive leadership style is needed when there is high functional heterogeneity. While in order to innovate, participative leadership style is needed if there is high functional heterogeneity. So, it’s important to find out what the objectives are: innovation or performance?

Translating functional heterogeneity into beneficial outcomes is quite complex. Participative and directive leadership styles could complement each other in a both/and approach (instead of an or/or approach). From this research, we can conclude that:

  • For highly heterogeneous team, participative leadership style leads to better team reflection: the leader helps translate the heterogeneity in backgrounds into advantages for the team.

  • For low heterogeneous teams, directive leadership leads to better team reflection: the leader advocates a position and voices disagreement to encourage critique.

  • For team innovation, participative leadership and high heterogeneity lead to more team reflection and innovation.

  • For team in-role performance, team reflection did not mediate the relationship. So, the type of task may be critical in determining the need for team reflection, which is more needed in complex tasks.

  • Highly functionally heterogeneous teams with a participative leader show lower team in-role performance. So: it’s a trade-off, which outcome do you want?

In Figure 5, the results of this study are drawn in a schema, this way; it’s easy to see that depending on the preferred outcome, the corresponding leadership style has to be chosen.

Figure 5: Schematic overview of the results of Somech, 2006
















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7 eigenschappen van effectief leiderschap

7 eigenschappen van effectief leiderschap

Deze samenvatting bij 7 eigenschappen van effectief leiderschap (ofwel Zeven eigenschappen die jou succesvol maken, Covey) is geschreven in 2015

Deel 1 Principes & paradigma’s

Verandering van binnenuit

Sommige mensen lijken van buitenaf bekeken veel succes te hebben maar zijn van binnen wanhopig op zoek naar sterke relaties met anderen. Vaak ligt de kern van het probleem niet in de wereld om ons heen maar in onszelf. Het ‘Pygmalion-effect’ beschrijft hoe de manier waarop we naar de wereld kijken, bepaalt hoe we deze interpreteren. Onze waarnemingen zijn dus al op voorhand beïnvloed. Dat principe kan op vrijwel alle problemen die mensen hebben worden toegepast. Vaak proberen we heus wel om onze problemen op te lossen maar zit de oplossing verscholen in hoe we het probleem zien. Onze visie bepaalt onze benadering en deze visie kan ook onderdeel van het probleem zijn. Daarom is het veranderen van onze perceptie vaak een eerste stap richting de oplossing.

Er is een interessante tendens waarnemer in de literatuur over succes van de laatste 200 jaar. De laatste 50 jaar was deze namelijk enorm oppervlakkig geworden. De eerste 150 jaar van literatuur over succes laat zich samenvatten als een principiële visie op succes. Volgens deze boeken kan iedereen succesvol worden door het toepassen van basisregels (of principes) in het dagelijkse leven en het integreren van deze regels in je persoonlijkheid. Na de Eerste Wereldoorlog is deze visie op succes veranderd van een principiële visie in een pragmatische visie. Succes is vooral aantoonbaar in uiterlijkheden: je prestaties, je houding, je status, je gedrag en je vaardigheden. Er zijn binnen deze pragmatische visie twee stromingen. De eerste richt zich op het verbeteren van persoonlijke en maatschappelijke relaties. De tweede richt zich op een positieve geest. De lezer wordt vaak voorgehouden dat met het leren van betere communicatievaardigheden, trucjes om anderen te beïnvloeden en het adopteren van een positieve instelling succes slechts een kwestie van tijd is.

Sommige mensen zien hun probleem in pragmatische termen. Als mensen doorhebben dat dit zo is, kunnen ze dit veranderen. Communicatievaardigheden en positief denken - de facetten van de pragmatische visie op succes - zijn absoluut belangrijk, maar niet doorslaggevend. Doorslaggevend is vertrouwen. Dit is het fundament van langdurig succes. Zonder integere basisprincipes kun je geen langdurige relaties hebben en zal je succes steeds van korte duur zijn.

De zeven eigenschappen van effectief leiderschap komen voort uit principes die je leven diepgang geven. Om deze eigenschappen te kunnen begrijpen is het belangrijk om te weten wat paradigma’s zijn en hoe we deze kunnen veranderen en zo een paradigmaverschuiving te bewerkstelligen. Paradigma’s zijn je referentiekaders. Je paradigma’s bepalen dus hoe je de wereld interpreteert. Voorbeelden van paradigma’s zijn de principiële en pragmatische levenshouding die eerder genoemd zijn. Ze bepalen onze kijk op succes en hoe we het kunnen bereiken. Alles wat we waarnemen plaatsen we in dit referentiekader. Iedereen heeft twee soorten paradigma’s. De eerste soort bestaat uit hoe we de werkelijkheid zien: hoe dingen zijn. De tweede bestaat uit onze waarden: hoe dingen zouden moeten zijn. Ons gedrag is in sterke mate bepaald door onze paradigma’s.

Om dit te illustreren kun je een klein experiment doen met het boek. Kijk naar de vrouw op pagina 20 en dan naar de vrouw op pagina 21. Waarschijnlijk zie je nu een jonge aantrekkelijke vrouw. Echter, je zou ook net zo goed een oude, onaantrekkelijke vrouw kunnen zien. Zie je het niet? Kijk dan naar de vrouw op pagina 34 en vervolgens weer naar vrouw op pagina 21. Dit experiment toont aan dat twee mensen hetzelfde kunnen zien maar het volkomen anders interpreteren. Met andere woorden, je interpretatie is subjectief en is daarom niet te verwarren met de waarheid. Ons paradigma conditioneert daarom ons beeld van de werkelijkheid. Dit is bovendien slechts een klein voorbeeld. Onze sociale omgeving, onze docenten, onze priesters en collega’s hebben een continue en vaak ingrijpende, langdurige invloed op onze paradigma’s.

Het experiment toont niet alleen hoe makkelijk onze interpretatie van de wereld om ons heen te beïnvloeden is. Het toont bovendien aan hoe het ons gedrag bepaalt. Als je de vrouw op pagina 21 ziet als een jonge vrouw zou je haar wellicht mee uit eten nemen. Terwijl als je haar ziet als een oudere vrouw, zou je haar misschien helpen oversteken maar daar zou je het waarschijnlijk ook bij laten. De truc is dat je houding en je gedrag moeten kloppen met hoe je naar de wereld kijkt. Dit is de reden waarom de pragmatische levenshouding niet effectief is. Ons gedrag is niet effectief als we niet nadenken over de paradigma’s die ons gedrag bepalen.

Het experiment toont daarnaast ook aan hoe onze paradigma’s in sterke mate bepalen hoe we met anderen omgaan. Vaak denken we namelijk dat wij de wereld objectief zien maar in werkelijkheid ziet iedereen de wereld op zijn eigen manier. Iedereen heeft zijn eigen valide interpretatie van de werkelijkheid. Als je iets beschrijft, beschrijf je daarom ook automatisch je eigen paradigma. Het is niet zo dat er helemaal geen objectieve werkelijkheid is maar er zijn meerdere manieren om deze te interpreteren. Als we ons bewust zijn van onze paradigma’s kunnen we die vergelijken met die van anderen en zo ons wereldbeeld verbreden.

De belangrijkste les die we uit dit experiment kunnen trekken is dat we ons paradigma kunnen aanpassen en zo een paradigmaverschuiving kunnen bewerkstelligen. In het voorbeeld van het experiment vindt de paradigmaverschuiving plaats als we de afbeelding ineens anders ‘zien’. Ook in de wetenschap vinden regelmatig paradigmaverschuivingen plaats: Copernicus’ idee dat de zon niet om de aarde draait maar andersom; de ontdekking van de bacterie; de overgang van monarchie naar democratie.

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