Evolutionary theory and political leadership: Why certain people do not trust decision makers

Kevin B. Smith, Christopher W. Larimer, Levente Littvay, John R Hibbing

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Central to social systems are the attitudes of the rank and file toward those who make political decisions (leaders), and attitudes toward leaders are known to be characterized by two fundamental features. First, the modal attitude is acceptance of the necessity of leaders coupled with acute aversion to leaders who are believed to be motivated by ambition and avarice; second, people are highly variable with some being markedly more sensitive than others to the traits of leaders. But the theoretical basis for these empirical facts has yet to be fully elucidated. In this article, we offer such a theory by drawing on biological evolution and then, using a series of laboratory experiments, provide an empirical test of it. Results are fully consistent with evolutionary theory in showing that people are indeed generally sensitive to leadership traits threatening to the larger group even as certain, expected individuals are a good deal more sensitive than others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-299
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Politics
Volume69
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2007

Fingerprint

evolutionary theory
political leadership
decision maker
leader
political decision
laboratory experiment
social system
acceptance
leadership
Group

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Evolutionary theory and political leadership : Why certain people do not trust decision makers. / Smith, Kevin B.; Larimer, Christopher W.; Littvay, Levente; Hibbing, John R.

In: Journal of Politics, Vol. 69, No. 2, 01.05.2007, p. 285-299.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Smith, Kevin B. ; Larimer, Christopher W. ; Littvay, Levente ; Hibbing, John R. / Evolutionary theory and political leadership : Why certain people do not trust decision makers. In: Journal of Politics. 2007 ; Vol. 69, No. 2. pp. 285-299.
@article{bb00a456bb60437b89867eaccf680dfc,
title = "Evolutionary theory and political leadership: Why certain people do not trust decision makers",
abstract = "Central to social systems are the attitudes of the rank and file toward those who make political decisions (leaders), and attitudes toward leaders are known to be characterized by two fundamental features. First, the modal attitude is acceptance of the necessity of leaders coupled with acute aversion to leaders who are believed to be motivated by ambition and avarice; second, people are highly variable with some being markedly more sensitive than others to the traits of leaders. But the theoretical basis for these empirical facts has yet to be fully elucidated. In this article, we offer such a theory by drawing on biological evolution and then, using a series of laboratory experiments, provide an empirical test of it. Results are fully consistent with evolutionary theory in showing that people are indeed generally sensitive to leadership traits threatening to the larger group even as certain, expected individuals are a good deal more sensitive than others.",
author = "Smith, {Kevin B.} and Larimer, {Christopher W.} and Levente Littvay and Hibbing, {John R}",
year = "2007",
month = "5",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/j.1468-2508.2007.00532.x",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "69",
pages = "285--299",
journal = "Journal of Politics",
issn = "0022-3816",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Evolutionary theory and political leadership

T2 - Why certain people do not trust decision makers

AU - Smith, Kevin B.

AU - Larimer, Christopher W.

AU - Littvay, Levente

AU - Hibbing, John R

PY - 2007/5/1

Y1 - 2007/5/1

N2 - Central to social systems are the attitudes of the rank and file toward those who make political decisions (leaders), and attitudes toward leaders are known to be characterized by two fundamental features. First, the modal attitude is acceptance of the necessity of leaders coupled with acute aversion to leaders who are believed to be motivated by ambition and avarice; second, people are highly variable with some being markedly more sensitive than others to the traits of leaders. But the theoretical basis for these empirical facts has yet to be fully elucidated. In this article, we offer such a theory by drawing on biological evolution and then, using a series of laboratory experiments, provide an empirical test of it. Results are fully consistent with evolutionary theory in showing that people are indeed generally sensitive to leadership traits threatening to the larger group even as certain, expected individuals are a good deal more sensitive than others.

AB - Central to social systems are the attitudes of the rank and file toward those who make political decisions (leaders), and attitudes toward leaders are known to be characterized by two fundamental features. First, the modal attitude is acceptance of the necessity of leaders coupled with acute aversion to leaders who are believed to be motivated by ambition and avarice; second, people are highly variable with some being markedly more sensitive than others to the traits of leaders. But the theoretical basis for these empirical facts has yet to be fully elucidated. In this article, we offer such a theory by drawing on biological evolution and then, using a series of laboratory experiments, provide an empirical test of it. Results are fully consistent with evolutionary theory in showing that people are indeed generally sensitive to leadership traits threatening to the larger group even as certain, expected individuals are a good deal more sensitive than others.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=34247096424&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=34247096424&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/j.1468-2508.2007.00532.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1468-2508.2007.00532.x

M3 - Review article

AN - SCOPUS:34247096424

VL - 69

SP - 285

EP - 299

JO - Journal of Politics

JF - Journal of Politics

SN - 0022-3816

IS - 2

ER -