Leadership and Neuroscience: What Makes a Leader Inspiring?

Prochilo, Guy (2013). Leadership and Neuroscience: What Makes a Leader Inspiring? Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Prochilo, Guy
Thesis Title Leadership and Neuroscience: What Makes a Leader Inspiring?
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2013-10-09
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Pascal Molenberghs
Total pages 105
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Leaders are able to inspire followers by articulating a socialised, group-oriented vision of the future. However, alternative lines of research suggest the efficacy of visionary communication will be influenced by leader group identity, where in-group leaders are evaluated more favourably than out-group leaders. To reconcile these theories, the current fMRI study analyses whether distinct neural networks are recruited when followers make attributions of inspiration. During functional scanning, strong Liberal and Labor supporters evaluated socialised (group-oriented) and personalised (narcissistic and leader-oriented) visions from in-group and out-group leaders. Results revealed that socialised and in-group visions were more inspiring than personalised and out-group visions, respectively. FMRI data extend on these findings by demonstrating that responses are mediated by selective recruitment of neural networks. First, individuals direct their attention and simulate the motor actions of leaders that confirm a positive in-group or negative out-group identity. Second, activation in the orbitofrontal cortex rewards positive in-group behaviour but not positive out-group behaviour. Third, negative leadership behaviour activates a semantic unification network in response to violations of appropriate leader actions, as well as activation of punishment-related areas of the orbitofrontal cortex. However, while individuals are not motivated to direct attention or simulate the motor actions of negative in-group leaders, they readily attend to and simulate the actions of negative out-group leaders. Fourth, followers reason about the behaviour of negative in-group leaders as individuals who are distinct from an in-group identity. These results suggest that the selective activation of neural networks act to privilege in-group behaviours while devaluing out-group behaviours. Such findings corroborate the social identity approach to leadership, and have broad implications beyond the leadership domain. Indeed, selective activation of neural networks may characterise the behaviour of all intergroup relations more broadly.
Keyword Leadership
inspiring leader

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Created: Sat, 05 Jul 2014, 00:30:16 EST by Danico Jones on behalf of School of Psychology