Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Attitude Similarity and Stereotypicality in Leader Evaluation

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Attitude Similarity and Stereotypicality in Leader Evaluation

Article excerpt

Stereotypicality and attitudinal similarity are variables broadly studied in the research about leader's acceptance and evaluation. However, the interaction between these variables has not been deeply studied. An experimental research in which we analyze the influence of both variables and their interaction on leaders' evaluation is presented. A 3 × 3 (attitudinal similarity [none, moderate, high] × leaders' stereotypicality [none, moderately and very stereotypical]) design was used. Participants were 215 Psychology students. Results show that both variables influenced leaders' evaluation, although the influence of stereotypicality was stronger than that of attitude similarity. The significant interaction between both variables indicates that, when a very stereotypical leader is not at all similar or moderately similar to the perceiver, his or her evaluation diminishes.

Keywords: stereotypicality, attitudinal similarity, leadership, evaluation

La estereotipicidad y la semejanza actitudinal son dos variables ampliamente estudiadas en los estudios sobre la aceptación y valoración de los líderes. Sin embargo, la interacción entre ambas no ha sido abordada en profundidad. Aquí se presenta una investigación experimental en la que se estudia y compara la influencia de estas dos variables y de su interacción sobre la evaluación de un líder. Se utilizó un diseño 3 (semejanza actitudinal: ninguna, moderada y alta) × 3 (estereotipicidad: líderes nada, moderadamente y muy estereotípicos). Participaron 215 estudiantes de Psicología. Los resultados muestran que ambas variables influyen significativamente en la evaluación de los líderes, aunque la estereotipicidad lo hace en mayor medida que la semejanza. Sin embargo, la interacción significativa entre ambas variables indica que cuando el líder muy estereotípico es moderadamente o no es nada semejante al perceptor, su evaluación disminuye.

Palabras clave: estereotipicidad, semejanza actitudinal, liderazgo, evaluación

There have been various approaches and perspectives in the study of leadership, with the first investigations focusing on the leaders' figure, their characteristics and qualities (Molero, 2004; Zaccaro, 2007). Leaders were assumed to have certain personality characteristics or special traits that distinguished them from the rest of the people, and leaders were assumed to present the same leadership style towards all their followers. However, the results of the empirical investigations do not support this belief (Hollander, 1985) and these theories were discarded in favor of others that considered not only the leaders but also the followers and the leader-follower interaction (Bass, 1990; Lord, Foti, & DeVader, 1984; Shamir, Arthur, & House, 1994; Stogdill, 1974). This new approach is reflected in the literature about the charismatic leader (Conger & Kanungo, 1987), the attributional theories of "leadership romance" (Meindl, 1990), the leader-member exchange (Dansereau, Graen, & Haga, 1975), and the paradigm of information processing (Lord, 1985). Within the last paradigm are included the studies of the implicit theories of leadership.

This investigation falls mainly within the framework of the leader-member exchange theory and the implicit theories of leadership. Among the former, as indicated by its name, the concept of exchange is particularly relevant: The leader is the person who facilitates achieving group goals; therefore, group members will assign more capacity of influence, status, and esteem to the leader, because in exchange, the leader will allow them to obtain a series of benefits (Hollander & Julian, 1969). Moreover, it is understood that leaders can develop different types of relations with the diverse group members. In this sense, the theory considers that exchanges between leaders and their followers can be placed along a continuum whose poles will be high and low quality (Graen & Wakabayashi, 1994). …

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