Kevin Lewis

May 08, 2016

Echoes of our upbringing: How growing up wealthy or poor relates to narcissism, leader behavior, and leader effectiveness

Sean Martin, Stéphane Côté & Todd Woodruff

Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

We investigate how parental income during one's upbringing relates to his or her effectiveness as a leader after entering an organization. Drawing on research on the psychological effects of income, social learning theory, and the integrative trait-behavioral model of leadership effectiveness, we propose a negative, serially mediated association between higher parental income and lower future leader effectiveness via high levels of narcissism and, in turn, reduced engagement in behaviors that are viewed as central to the leadership role. We test our model using multisource data collected from active soldiers in the United States Army. Results reveal that parental income exerts indirect effects on leadership effectiveness criteria because a) parental income is positively related to narcissism as an adult, b) narcissism relates negatively to engaging in task-, relational-, and change-oriented leadership behaviors, and c) reduced engagement in these behaviors relates to lower leader effectiveness. Our investigation advances theory by identifying pathways through which parental income relates to the effectiveness of leaders in organizations, and by illuminating the origins of a trait (narcissism) that predicts the behavior and effectiveness of leaders.


Listen, Follow Me: Dynamic Vocal Signals of Dominance Predict Emergent Social Rank in Humans

Joey Cheng et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, May 2016, Pages 536-547

Similar to the nonverbal signals shown by many nonhuman animals during aggressive conflicts, humans display a broad range of behavioral signals to advertise and augment their apparent size, strength, and fighting prowess when competing for social dominance. Favored by natural selection, these signals communicate the displayer’s capacity and willingness to inflict harm, and increase responders’ likelihood of detecting and establishing a rank asymmetry, and thus avoiding costly physical conflicts. Included among this suite of adaptations are vocal changes, which occur in a wide range of nonhuman animals (e.g., chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys) prior to aggression, but have not been systematically examined in humans. The present research tests whether and how humans use vocal pitch modulations to communicate information about their intention to dominate or submit. Results from Study 1 demonstrate that in the context of face-to-face group interactions, individuals spontaneously alter their vocal pitch in a manner consistent with rank signaling. Raising one’s pitch early in the course of an interaction predicted lower emergent rank, whereas deepening one’s pitch predicted higher emergent rank. Results from Study 2 provide causal evidence that these vocal shifts influence perceptions of rank and formidability. Together, findings suggest that humans use transient vocal changes to track, signal, and coordinate status relationships.


Are the Powerful Really Blind to the Feelings of Others? How Hierarchical Concerns Shape Attention to Emotions

Eftychia Stamkou et al.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, June 2016, Pages 755-768

Paying attention to others’ emotions is essential to successful social interactions. Integrating social-functional approaches to emotion with theorizing on the reciprocal nature of power, we propose that attention to others’ emotions depends on concerns over one’s power position and the social signal conveyed by the emotion. Others’ anger signals attack — information relevant to high-power individuals who are concerned about the legitimacy or suitability of their position. On the contrary, others’ fear signals vulnerability — information relevant to low-power individuals who are concerned about their unfair treatment within an illegitimate hierarchy. Accordingly, when power roles were illegitimately assigned or mismatched with one’s trait power, leaders were faster at detecting the appearance of anger (Studies 1 and 2), slower at judging the disappearance of anger (Study 2), and more accurate in recognizing subordinates’ anger, whereas subordinates were more accurate in recognizing leaders’ fear (Study 3). Implications for theorizing about emotion and social hierarchy are discussed.


For a dollar, would you…? How (we think) money affects compliance with our requests

Vanessa Bohns, Daniel Newark & Amy Xu

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, May 2016, Pages 45–62

Research has shown a robust tendency for people to underestimate their ability to get others to comply with their requests. In five studies, we demonstrate that this underestimation-of-compliance effect is reduced when requesters offer money in exchange for compliance. In Studies 1 and 2, participants assigned to a no-incentive or monetary-incentive condition made actual requests of others. In both studies, requesters who offered no incentives underestimated the likelihood that those they approached would grant their requests; however, when requesters offered monetary incentives, this prediction error was mitigated. In Studies 3–5, we present evidence in support of a model to explain the underlying mechanism for this attenuation effect. Studies 3 and 4 demonstrate that offering monetary incentives activates a money-market frame. In Study 5, we find that this activation reduces the discomfort associated with asking, allowing requesters to more accurately assess the size of their request and, consequently, the likelihood of compliance.


Looking Out From the Top: Differential Effects of Status and Power on Perspective Taking

Steven Blader, Aiwa Shirako & Yaru Chen

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, June 2016, Pages 723-737

The impact of hierarchical rank on perspective taking is both practically and theoretically important, prompting considerable research attention to this issue. However, prior research has primarily examined how power affects perspective taking, and has neglected to investigate the impact of status (i.e., the respect and esteem that an individual holds in the eyes of others). Yet status represents a distinct and ubiquitous basis of hierarchical differentiation, one that may profoundly affect perspective taking. The current research addresses this gap, theorizing and testing the prediction that high status enhances perspective taking, in contrast to prior research that has generally found that high power diminishes perspective taking. Five studies, examining various forms of perspective taking across diverse paradigms, provide converging evidence that status and power exert differential effects on perspective taking. Moreover, these studies provide insight regarding the distinction between status and power, as well as the distinct psychology associated with status.


The Information-Anchoring Model of First Offers: When Moving First Helps Versus Hurts Negotiators

David Loschelder et al.

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Does making the first offer increase or impair a negotiator’s outcomes? Past research has found evidence supporting both claims. To reconcile these contradictory findings, we developed and tested an integrative model — the Information-Anchoring Model of First Offers. The model predicts when and why making the first offer helps versus hurts. We suggest that first offers have 2 effects. First, they serve as anchors that pull final settlements toward the initial first-offer value; this anchor function often produces a first-mover advantage. Second, first offers can convey information on the senders’ priorities, which makes the sender vulnerable to exploitation and increases the risk of a first-mover disadvantage. To test this model, 3 experiments manipulated the information that senders communicated in their first offer. When senders did not reveal their priorities, the first-mover advantage was replicated. However, when first offers revealed senders’ priorities explicitly, implicitly, or both, a first-mover disadvantage emerged. Negotiators’ social value orientation moderated this effect: A first-mover disadvantage occurred when senders faced proself recipients who exploited priority information, but not with prosocial recipients. Moderated mediation analyses supported the model assumptions: Proself recipients used their integrative insight to feign priorities in their low-priority issues and thereby claimed more individual value than senders. The final discussion reviews theoretical and applied implications of the Information-Anchoring Model of First Offers.


Preparing the Self for Team Entry: How Relational Affirmation Improves Team Performance

Julia Lee et al.

Harvard Working Paper, March 2016

Working in teams often leads to productivity loss because the need to feel accepted prevents individual members from making a unique contribution to the team in terms of the information or perspective they can offer. Drawing on self-affirmation theory, we propose that pre-team relational self-affirmation can prepare individuals to contribute to team creative performance more effectively. We theorize that relationally-affirming one's self-views increases general feelings of being socially valued by others, leading to better information exchange and creative performance. In a first study, we found that teams in which members affirmed their best selves prior to team formation (i.e., by soliciting and receiving narratives that highlight one's positive impact on close others) outperformed teams that did not do so on a creative problem-solving task. In the second experiment, conducted using virtual teams, we show that pre-team relational self-affirmation leads to heightened feelings of social worth, which in turn explains the effect of the treatment on the team's ability to exchange information.


Laughter conveys status

Christopher Oveis et al.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

We propose that status influences individuals' use of dominant versus submissive laughter, and that individuals are conferred status based on the way they laugh. In Study 1, naturally occurring laughter was observed while low- and high-status individuals teased one another. The use of dominant and submissive laughter corresponded to hierarchical variables: High-status individuals and teasers displayed more dominant, disinhibited laughs, whereas low-status individuals and targets of teases displayed more submissive, inhibited laughs. Further, low-status individuals were more likely to vary the form of their laughter between contexts than high-status individuals. Study 2 demonstrated that laughter influences perceptions of status by naïve observers. Individuals who laughed dominantly were afforded higher status than individuals who laughed submissively, regardless of their actual status. Moreover, low-status laughers were perceived to be significantly higher in status, and to have as much status as high-status laughers, when laughing dominantly versus submissively. Finally, exploratory analyses suggest that the positive emotional reactions of observers of laughter can help explain the link between laugh type and status perceptions.


Optimal Distinctiveness Signals Membership Trust

Geoffrey Leonardelli & Denise Lewin Loyd

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

According to optimal distinctiveness theory, sufficiently small minority groups are associated with greater membership trust, even among members otherwise unknown, because the groups are seen as optimally distinctive. This article elaborates on the prediction’s motivational and cognitive processes and tests whether sufficiently small minorities (defined by relative size; for example, 20%) are associated with greater membership trust relative to mere minorities (45%), and whether such trust is a function of optimal distinctiveness. Two experiments, examining observers’ perceptions of minority and majority groups and using minimal groups and (in Experiment 2) a trust game, revealed greater membership trust in minorities than majorities. In Experiment 2, participants also preferred joining minorities over more powerful majorities. Both effects occurred only when minorities were 20% rather than 45%. In both studies, perceptions of optimal distinctiveness mediated effects. Discussion focuses on the value of relative size and optimal distinctiveness, and when membership trust manifests.


Oxytocin Effect on Collective Decision Making: A Randomized Placebo Controlled Study

Uri Hertz et al.

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Collective decision making often benefits both the individuals and the group in a variety of contexts. However, for the group to be successful, individuals should be able to strike a balance between their level of competence and their influence on the collective decisions. The hormone oxytocin has been shown to promote trust, conformism and attention to social cues. We wondered if this hormone may increase participants’ (unwarranted) reliance on their partners’ opinion, resulting in a reduction in collective benefit by disturbing the balance between influence and competence. To test this hypothesis we employed a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled design in which male dyads self-administered intranasal oxytocin or placebo and then performed a visual search task together. Compared to placebo, collective benefit did not decrease under oxytocin. Using an exploratory time dependent analysis, we observed increase in collective benefit over time under oxytocin. Moreover, trial-by-trial analysis showed that under oxytocin the more competent member of each dyad was less likely to change his mind during disagreements, while the less competent member showed a greater willingness to change his mind and conform to the opinion of his more reliable partner. This role-dependent effect may be mediated by enhanced monitoring of own and other’s performance level under oxytocin. Such enhanced social learning could improve the balance between influence and competence and lead to efficient and beneficial collaboration.


Followers Are Not Followed: Observed Group Interactions Modulate Subsequent Social Attention

Francesca Capozzi et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, May 2016, Pages 531-535

We asked whether previous observations of group interactions modulate subsequent social attention episodes. Participants first completed a learning phase with 2 conditions. In the “leader” condition 1 of 3 identities turned her gaze first, followed by the 2 other faces. In the “follower” condition, 1 of the identities turned her gaze after the 2 other faces had first shifted their gaze. Thus, participants observed that some individuals were consistently leaders and others followers of others’ attention. In the test phase, the faces of leaders and followers were presented in a gaze cueing paradigm. Remarkably, the followers did not elicit gaze cueing. Our data demonstrate that individuals who do not guide group attention in exploring the environment are ineffective social attention directors in later encounters. Thus, the role played in previous group social attention interactions modulates the relative weight assigned to others’ gaze: we ignore the gaze of group followers.


Money or Friends: Social Identity and Deception in Networks

Rong Rong, Daniel Houser & Anovia Yifan Dai

European Economic Review, forthcoming

Strategic communication occurs in virtually all committee decision environments. Theory suggests that small differences in monetary incentives between committee members can leave deception a strategically optimal decision (Crawford and Sobel, 1982; Galeotti et al., 2013). At the same time, in natural environments social incentives can also play an important role in determining the way people share or withhold truthful information. Unfortunately, little is known about how monetary and social incentives interact to determine truth-telling. We investigate this issue by first building a novel model and then testing its equilibrium predictions using laboratory data. In the absence of social identity, the model's predictions are supported: there is more truthful communication between those who share monetary incentives than those who do not. We find that the effect of identity is asymmetric: sharing the same identity does not promote truth-telling but holding different identities reduces truthfulness. Overall, as compared to environments lacking social identity, committees with both monetary and social incentives exhibit truthful communication substantially less frequently.


(Please Don't) Say It to My Face! The Interaction of Feedback and Distance: Experiments with Vulgar Language

David Blake Johnson

Kyklos, May 2016, Pages 336–368

I extend current understanding of non-monetary punishments by introducing one-way unrestricted feedback (vulgar language) from responders in laboratory and online ultimatum games. Feedback changes in the expected direction. Negative feedback is returned in the event of low offers while higher offers receive positive feedback. Additionally, the possibility of unrestricted feedback significantly increases amounts sent by proposers, but only in the lab. This effect is statistically significant and large in magnitude but is not present in the online experiments. These results illustrate that increases in social distance and/or physical proximity can weaken the effectiveness of non-monetary punishments.


Ostracism and Forgiveness

Nageeb Ali & David Miller

American Economic Review, forthcoming

Many communities rely upon ostracism to enforce cooperation: if an individual shirks in one relationship, her innocent neighbors share information about her guilt in order to shun her, while continuing to cooperate among themselves. However, a strategic victim may herself prefer to shirk, rather than report her victimization truthfully. If guilty players are to be permanently ostracized, then such deviations are so tempting that cooperation in any relationship is bounded by what the partners could obtain through bilateral enforcement. Ostracism can improve upon bilateral enforcement if tempered by forgiveness, through which guilty players are eventually readmitted to cooperative society.

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