Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Many people can and do lead because they want to help others, research suggests

Date:
July 28, 2010
Source:
University of Kent
Summary:
In an era when the motives and ambitions of leaders such as Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron are under constant public and media scrutiny, new research conducted in the UK has suggested that many people can and do lead because they want to help others.

In an era when the motives and ambitions of leaders such as Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron are under constant public and media scrutiny, new research conducted at the University of Kent has suggested that many people can and do lead because they want to help others.

Related Articles


Although the research does not deny that some people want to and do lead in order to garner status and dominance over others, it has overturned traditional theories about leadership and challenged the leading hypothesis about the likely motives and personalities of leaders.

Until now, most evolutionary biologists and psychologists have considered leadership as the outcome of a competition for status in which people compete for the right to dominate and exploit others. This hypothesis predicts that leaders will be selfish and egoistic.

However, the outcome of this latest research, which was conducted by Dr Edward Cartwright (University of Kent), Joris Gillet (University of Osnabrueck) and Professor Mark van Vugt (VU University, Amsterdam), shows that the difference could not be more stark.

In their forthcoming paper, to be published by the journal Personality and Individual Differences, the team report on experiments, run at the University of Kent, that support a radically different hypothesis. Through experiments in two economic coordination games, they looked at the personality traits of people who choose to be leaders. Their results found that leaders were more likely to be rated as pro-social rather than selfish. Moreover, those who chose to lead typically earned less money than those who chose to follow. They seemingly sacrificed their own payoff to potentially increase the payoffs of others.

Dr Cartwright, Senior Lecturer at Kent's School of Economics, explained: 'Our results suggest that leadership is a way for people to be helpful and engender coordination and cooperation between others. This paints a much more positive view of leadership than is typical, and we were surprised by how clear cut the results are. In both the games we looked at, everything points towards selfless rather than selfish leaders. This really challenges the way we think about leaders.'

Professor Van Vugt, an Honorary Professor at Kent and the paper's co-author, said: "Our data supports the view that leadership emerged in human societies as a social good. Yet this does not mean that leaders will not abuse their power once they find themselves in charge of a group -- in fact many do. But for every Mugabe there is a Mandela and the latter is much closer to the way we want our leaders to be: fair, inspiring and servant."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kent. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joris Gillet, Edward Cartwright, Mark van Vugt. Selfish or servant leadership? Evolutionary predictions on leadership personalities in coordination games. Personality and Individual Differences, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.06.003

Cite This Page:

University of Kent. "Many people can and do lead because they want to help others, research suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727065649.htm>.
University of Kent. (2010, July 28). Many people can and do lead because they want to help others, research suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727065649.htm
University of Kent. "Many people can and do lead because they want to help others, research suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727065649.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins