Leadership impression from the face across cultures
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People agree on who should be a leader based solely on static facial images, and this naive judgement is found to predict actual leadership emergence. Although many impressions correlate with leadership success, the perceived characteristics can be mapped onto two or three dimensions: dominance, trustworthiness, and attractiveness. This thesis examines cultural differences in the association of personality judgements and leadership. Chapter 1 reviews the theoretical basis for the association between facial features and leadership, reviewing evolutionary, social identity, and leadership categorization theories. Chapters 2-4 present empirical studies of leadership impressions from the face. Chapter 2 found facial judgements of leadership can be grouped into two dimensions: a prototypical leadership dimension (sensitivity, dedication, charisma, attractiveness, intelligence, strength) and an anti-prototypical leadership dimension (tyranny, masculinity, and strength). Chapter 2 also found that leadership judgments are contextual and depend on the type of leader (business, sports, moral). Averages of faces seen as good sports leaders were rated highest on the anti-prototypical leadership dimension, while averages of faces seen as good moral leaders were rated highest on prototypical leadership dimension. Chapter 3 examined the impact of facial masculinity and prototypicality on leadership perception in UK and Chinese societies. Increase of prototypicality (own ethnicity in face shape) enhanced leadership perception, particularly in Chinese subjects. Increased facial masculinity decreased leadership perception for female faces, particularly in European subjects. Seeing one’s identity as one of a hierarchical group (collectivism) drove preference for masculinity in female leaders. Chapter 4 measured the leadership perception in real-world leadership within a Chinese corporation. The faces of male leaders were judged more mature, trustworthy, and competent looking but not more attractive than the non-leaders.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2023-05-24
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Restricted until 24th May 2023
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