ArticlePDF Available

Why Do Dominant Personalities Attain Influence in Face-to-Face Groups? The Competence-Signaling Effects of Trait Dominance

Authors:

Abstract

Individuals high in the personality trait dominance consistently attain high levels of influence in groups. Why they do is unclear, however, because most group theories assert that people cannot attain influence simply by behaving assertively and forcefully; rather, they need to possess superior task abilities and leadership skills. In the present research, the authors proposed that individuals high in trait dominance attain influence because they behave in ways that make them appear competent--even when they actually lack competence. Two studies examined task groups using a social relations analysis of peer perceptions (D. A. Kenny & L. LaVoie, 1984). The authors found that individuals higher in trait dominance were rated as more competent by fellow group members, outside peer observers, and research staff members, even after controlling for individuals' actual abilities. Furthermore, frequency counts of discrete behaviors showed that dominance predicts the enactment of competence-signaling behaviors, which in turn predicts peer ratings of competence. These findings extend researchers' understanding of trait dominance, hierarchies in groups, and perceptions of competence and abilities.
Why Do Dominant Personalities Attain Influence in Face-to-Face Groups?
The Competence-Signaling Effects of Trait Dominance
Cameron Anderson and Gavin J. Kilduff
University of California, Berkeley
Individuals high in the personality trait dominance consistently attain high levels of influence in groups.
Why they do is unclear, however, because most group theories assert that people cannot attain influence
simply by behaving assertively and forcefully; rather, they need to possess superior task abilities and
leadership skills. In the present research, the authors proposed that individuals high in trait dominance
attain influence because they behave in ways that make them appear competent— even when they
actually lack competence. Two studies examined task groups using a social relations analysis of peer
perceptions (D. A. Kenny & L. LaVoie, 1984). The authors found that individuals higher in trait
dominance were rated as more competent by fellow group members, outside peer observers, and research
staff members, even after controlling for individuals’ actual abilities. Furthermore, frequency counts of
discrete behaviors showed that dominance predicts the enactment of competence-signaling behaviors,
which in turn predicts peer ratings of competence. These findings extend researchers’ understanding of
trait dominance, hierarchies in groups, and perceptions of competence and abilities.
Keywords: dominance, influence, power, status, competence
The personality trait dominance involves the tendency to behave
in assertive, forceful, and self-assured ways (Buss & Craik, 1980;
Gough, 1987; Wiggins, 1979). As an abundance of research has
shown, individuals higher in trait dominance tend to attain more
influence in face-to-face groups than others—they speak more,
gain more control over group processes, and hold disproportionate
sway over group decisions (for a review, see Judge, Bono, Illies, &
Gerhardt, 2002). For example, one meta-analysis of 85 years of
research found trait dominance to predict who emerges as the
leader in groups more consistently than any other individual-
difference dimension examined, including intelligence (Lord, De
Vader, & Alliger, 1986).
At first glance, the reason why trait dominance leads to influ-
ence seems obvious: Individuals high in trait dominance are as-
sertive and motivated to lead, and thus take control through the
force of their personality. However, prior research has shown that
individuals cannot take charge of groups simply through force;
rather, they must seem to possess superior task and social compe-
tence (e.g., Berger, Cohen, & Zelditch, 1972; Ridgeway &
Diekema, 1989; Van Vugt, 2006). Because trait dominance is
unrelated to many of the task and social competencies required in
leaders (e.g., Gough, 1949), it is unclear why dominance relates to
influence in groups so strongly and consistently.
In the present research, we proposed that dominant individuals
achieve influence because they tend to appear competent to others,
even when they actually lack competence. Specifically, dominant
individuals behave in ways that make them seem both expert at the
task and socially skilled, which leads groups to afford them influ-
ence and control. We tested this hypothesis in two studies of task
groups, using a social relations model analysis of peer ratings of
competence and influence (Kenny & La Voie, 1984). We also used
outside observers to rate individuals’ competence and used fre-
quency counts of discrete behaviors to measure the display of
competence-signaling behaviors during group discussions.
Influence in Face-to-Face Groups
Influence is a process in which individuals modify others’
behaviors, thoughts, and feelings (Cartwright, 1959; Lewin, 1951).
Although different variations of intra-group hierarchies (e.g.,
power, status, or leadership hierarchies) have been examined in
prior work, each variation involves inequalities among group
members’ levels of influence. We thus focused on the concept of
influence so that we could incorporate prior work on power, status,
and leadership. Furthermore, as is commonly done, we use the
term influence to mean both a social process and resource; for
example, someone can be construed as “possessing” influence
when they are able to modify others’ behavior.
Most theories of intragroup hierarchies adopt a functionalist
perspective (e.g., Berger et al., 1972; Blau, 1964; Hollander &
Julian, 1969; Thibaut & Kelley, 1959; Van Vugt, 2006). Thus,
these theories converge on the following points: First, an individ-
ual member’s influence in a group is determined by the group.
Second, groups give influence to members who possess superior
competence and expertise. Following from these two points is the
idea that individuals cannot take influence from the group simply
by force. Third, by putting their most qualified members in charge,
groups stand the best chance of achieving their collective goals.
Whereas the specific competencies required to attain influence
may depend on the group’s task (e.g., Hogan & Hogan, 1991), in
Cameron Anderson and Gavin J. Kilduff, Haas School of Business,
University of California, Berkeley.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Cameron
Anderson, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley,
545 Student Services Building 1900, Berkeley, CA 94720-1900. E-mail:
anderson@haas.berkeley.edu
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology © 2009 American Psychological Association
2009, Vol. 96, No. 2, 491–503 0022-3514/09/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0014201
491
general individuals need to exhibit superior abilities in two do-
mains (Lord, 1985): First, they must possess social skills that will
allow them to lead the group, communicate the group’s vision and
strategy, and motivate others. Second, they must be skilled at the
group’s task. That is, they need to possess special knowledge of
the technical problems faced by the group or possess superior
cognitive abilities (Blau, 1964).
It is important to note that possessing social skills alone is not
sufficient to attain influence. Individuals must also possess task-
related abilities. “Low task ability disqualifies an individual almost
immediately from leadership status” (Van Vugt, 2006, p. 362).
Indeed, task groups more often prioritize task competence over
social skills when allocating influence (Lord, Phillips, & Rush,
1980). On a team of engineers, for example, technical ability tends
to be more important than the ability to communicate.
Ample evidence supports this functionalist perspective of influ-
ence. For example, numerous studies have shown that groups give
influence to the members who possess superior task and social
competence (for reviews, see Bass, 1981; Driskell & Mullen,
1990; Hollander & Julian, 1969; Mann, 1959). Furthermore, re-
search has shown that groups prevent individuals from taking
charge simply through force (Anderson, Srivastava, Beer, Spataro,
& Chatman, 2006; Blau & Scott, 1962; Ridgeway & Diekema,
1989).
Why Does Trait Dominance Predict Influence in Groups?
Why trait dominance leads to influence in face-to-face groups is
a mystery, therefore, because dominance is unrelated to many of
the competencies required to attain influence. For example, in
prior studies, individuals high in trait dominance attained influence
in groups that discussed ethical dilemmas (Aries, Gold, & Weigel,
1983), worked on mechanical tasks (Megargee, Bogart, & Ander-
son, 1966; Smith & Foti, 1998), and allocated funds to employees
in a hypothetical company (Anderson & Berdahl, 2002). It is
difficult to believe that trait dominance correlates with expertise in
all of these task domains. Moreover, previous studies suggest trait
dominance is largely unrelated to general cognitive ability (Dodge,
1937; Donahue & Sattler 1971; Gough, 1949; Schippmann &
Prien, 1989; Smith & Foti, 1998). It might be modestly related to
some social skills, such as the ability to address conflicts and read
others’ emotions (Hall, Halberstadt, & O’Brien, 1997), but as
already discussed, social abilities such as these are insufficient to
attain influence in the absence of task expertise.
We propose that dominant individuals attain influence because
they behave in ways that make them appear more competent along
both task and social dimensions— even when they actually lack
competence. We base this argument on two sets of findings.
First, because individual members’ abilities are typically hidden
from each other, groups can only allocate influence on the basis of
what they believe each group member’s competence to be (Berger
et al., 1972; Driskell & Mullen, 1990; Lord, 1985). These beliefs
are often based on superficial cues such as nonverbal behaviors.
For example, individuals are perceived to be more competent when
they use more certain and factual language (Driskell, Olmstead, &
Salas, 1993; Ridgeway, 1987), speak more often and in a fluid and
assertive manner (Carli, LaFleur, & Loeber, 1995; Reynolds &
Gifford, 2001), use more direct eye contact (Mehrabian & Wil-
liams, 1969), and use a relaxed and expansive posture (Imada &
Hakel, 1977).
Second, individuals higher in trait dominance tend to display
more of these superficial “competence cues.” In group settings,
individuals higher in trait dominance make more suggestions and
express their opinions more frequently (Kalma, Visser, & Peeters,
1993; Moskowitz, 1990), speak in more assertive tones (Aries et
al., 1983; Buss, 1981), make more direct eye contact (Snyder &
Sutker, 1977), and use a more relaxed and expansive posture
(Buss, 1981).
In summary, we argue that dominant individuals tend to display
competence-related cues—independent of their actual compe-
tence—and these cues inform the perceptions of the other group
members, which in turn leads to higher influence. Therefore, we
believe dominant individuals achieve influence by exhibiting self-
confidence and apparent competence rather than by behaving in
bullying and intimidating ways. As such, we agree with prior
theorists who have argued that individuals who use aggressive and
abusive behavior fail to achieve influence (Ridgeway, 1987;
Ridgeway & Diekema, 1989; Van Vugt, 2006).
Overview of Studies
In two studies of task groups, we tested the hypotheses that
group members would perceive individuals higher in trait domi-
nance as more competent along task and social dimensions and
that these perceptions would mediate the link between trait dom-
inance and influence. The null hypothesis was that peer percep-
tions of competence would fail to mediate the link between trait
dominance and influence in the group.
Ruling Out a “Motivated Perception” Explanation
If we were to find that groups perceived dominant individuals as
possessing superior competence, then it is possible that these
perceptions might reflect motivated perceptual biases rather than
dominant individuals’ display of competence cues. For example,
Lee and Ofshe (1981) argued that dominant individuals tend to
attain influence through force and intimidation. However, once
they attain influence, other group members construct overly pos-
itive perceptions of their competence to rationalize the emergent
hierarchy (see also Jost & Banaji, 1994; Lord, 1985). In other
words, dominant individuals might first achieve influence, and be
subsequently perceived as more competent, rather than vice versa.
Therefore, in order to show more conclusively that individuals
higher in trait dominance actually appear more competent, we
asked independent, outside observers to rate participants’ compe-
tence as well. Outside observers should feel no need to rationalize
the groups’ hierarchies, and thus their perceptions should not
suffer from any related biases. Again, reflecting an actual increase
in competence-signaling behaviors, we expected trait dominance
to predict being perceived as more competent by outside observers
and that these outside observers’ ratings would also mediate the
effect of trait dominance on influence in the group.
Measuring Competence
To measure task competence, we included ratings of task ex-
pertise and general cognitive abilities. To measure social compe-
tence, we included ratings of leadership and verbal skills.
492 ANDERSON AND KILDUFF
We also included ratings of personality dimensions associated
with task and social competence. We focused on the Big Five
personality dimensions, presently the most widely used personality
taxonomy (John & Srivastava, 1999; McCrae & Costa, 1999). In
terms of task competence, the dimensions of Conscientiousness
and Openness to Experience are most relevant. Conscientiousness
refers to “socially prescribed impulse control that facilitates task-
and goal-directed behavior” (John & Srivastava, 1999, p. 121) and
relates to a stronger work ethic and higher performance on most
tasks (Barrick & Mount, 1991). Openness to Experience describes
“the breadth, depth, originality, and complexity of an individual’s
mental and experiential life” (John & Srivastava, 1999, p. 121) and
relates to creativity and originality (McCrae, 1987). We thus
expected trait dominance to predict higher perceptions of Consci-
entiousness, generally, and higher perceptions of Openness to
Experience among groups working on creative tasks.
In terms of social competence, Extraversion is the most relevant
Big Five dimension. Extraversion implies an “energetic approach
to the social and material world and includes traits such as socia-
bility, activity, assertiveness, and positive emotionality” (John &
Srivastava, 1999, p. 121). Extraverts are better communicators,
more persuasive, and better at decoding others’ emotions than
introverts (Akert & Panter, 1988; Riggio, 1986). Therefore, we
expected that individuals higher in trait dominance would be
perceived as more extraverted.
Study 1
Method
Participants
Our sample consisted of 68 undergraduate students at a West
Coast university (35.3% men, 64.7% women), who were assigned
to 1 of 17 four-person groups. According to Lashley and Kenny
(1998), a sample of this size provides 80% statistical power for
estimates of peer ratings in a round-robin design. Participants were
assigned to groups in such a way that group members were
unacquainted with each other. To avoid the complexities intro-
duced by mixed-sex interactions (Aries et al., 1983), only same-
sex groups were created. Participants were 21 years old on average
(SD 3.30); 1.5% were African American, 74.2% were Asian/
Asian American, 8.8% were Caucasian, 12.1% were Latin Amer-
ican, and 3% reported “other.” They received course credit for
their participation.
Procedure
Upon arrival, participants privately completed a pretask self-
report questionnaire. They then worked together in groups for 45
min, while being videotaped, on a task that involved creating an
organization and outlining its strategy. Some groups invented a
non-profit environmental organization, wheras other groups in-
vented a for-profit Web site. Participants were told that the group
with the best proposal, as determined by the researchers, would
win $400. The task was designed to be engaging and evoke a lot
of discussion. After the task, group members privately rated each
other on a number of dimensions. After all group sessions had been
conducted, outside observers watched a videotape of the sessions
and rated group members on the same dimensions on which group
members rated each other. Two additional judges also ranked the
groups’ ideas, and the highest ranked group was paid $400.
Pretask Self-Report Measure of Trait Dominance
Participants rated their trait dominance with three items from the
Revised Interpersonal Adjective Scales (IAS-R; Wiggins, Trap-
nell, & Phillips, 1988) at the core of the dominance scale—
dominant, assertive, and forceful. These three items have shown
high item-total correlations with the full eight-item Dominance
Scale (e.g., average r.91; Anderson & Berdahl, 2002), and thus
adequately measure trait dominance. The items were rated on a
scale ranging from 1 (does not describe me at all)to7(describes
me very well). The three items were highly intercorrelated and
were thus combined into one overall measure of trait dominance
(coefficient ␣⫽.80).
Posttask Peer-Ratings Made by Group Members
Influence in the group. Group members rated each other on the
extent to which each person had influence on a scale ranging from
1(does not describe this person at all)to7(describes this person
very well), and ranked each group member in terms of who led the
group and who shaped the group’s decisions and processes
(1 being the highest rank and 4 being the lowest).
Competence dimensions. In terms of task competence, group
members rated each other on the “skills and expertise that would
allow him/her to perform well on the group task (e.g., creativity,
analytical abilities)” as well as on general intelligence and quan-
titative skills. In terms of social competence, they rated each
other’s “leadership ability (i.e., the ability to coordinate group
activities and motivate a group to pursue a common goal)” and
verbal skills. On the basis of past research (e.g., Paulhus &
Morgan, 1997), general intelligence, quantitative, and verbal skills
were rated on a scale ranging from 1 (not that high)to15
(extremely high). The other competence items were rated on a
scale ranging from 1 (does not describe this person at all)to7
(describes this person very well).
Big Five personality dimensions. Participants rated each oth-
er’s Big Five personality dimensions with the Ten Item Personality
Inventory (TIPI; Gosling, Rentfrow, & Swann, 2003). The TIPI
converges with longer Big Five measures and shows strong test–
retest reliability, in addition to considerable convergent and dis-
criminant validity (Gosling et al., 2003). All personality items
were rated on a scale ranging from 1 (does not describe this person
at all)to7(describes this person very well).
Ratings Made by Outside Observers From Videotape
Ratings made by independent peer judges. In selecting outside
observers who would rate the group members, there was a pref-
erence to avoid confounding group membership (i.e., being a
group member vs. an outside observer) with judges’ characteris-
tics. For example, if outside observers were older or more exten-
sively trained in psychology than group members, then they might
perceive group members differently than group members perceive
each other. To avoid this potential confound, outside observers
were selected who were as similar to the group members as
possible by recruiting them from the same subject pool from which
493
TRAIT DOMINANCE AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE
the group members were recruited. Furthermore, to prevent any
potential confounds due to differing levels of consensus among
groups of judges, three outside peer observers judged each target,
just as each individual was judged by three teammates.
Therefore, 51 undergraduate students, recruited from the same
subject pool as the target participants, were used to serve as
independent peer judges. Three separate independent peer judges
were assigned to each videotape, and steps were taken to ensure
that judges did not know any of the participants they were rating.
Each judge watched a single group’s interaction in its entirety, and
any judges watching a videotape at the same time were instructed
not to interact. Each independent peer judge rated each of the four
group members in their assigned group on the same dimensions on
which group members rated each other.
Ratings made by research staff members. Recruiting outside
observers from a subject pool generated an additional concern,
however—namely, that these judges might lack sufficient motiva-
tion to make accurate judgments of competence. When judges are
less motivated to make accurate ratings, they are more likely to
base their judgments of a person’s competence on that person’s
influence, using it as a crude heuristic for how competent the
person must be (Lord, 1985). In other words, unmotivated observ-
ers might infer individuals’ competence from whether they were
influential rather than judge competence and influence indepen-
dently, thus potentially inflating the correlation between trait dom-
inance and perceptions of competence.
To address this concern, members of the research team served as
a second set of outside observers. Specifically, six members of the
research staff, blind to the hypotheses, rated the participants. These
research staff members were highly interested in behavioral re-
search and were instructed explicitly and repeatedly on the impor-
tance of making accurate ratings. Three staff members were as-
signed to each videotape on the basis of schedule constraints and
the goal of not allowing judges to rate participants they knew.
After watching each videotape, the research staff members rated
each group member on the same dimensions on which group
members rated each other.
Social Relations Model (SRM) Analyses
SRM analyses of group member ratings. The group members’
ratings of each other constituted a round-robin design, so the
software program SOREMO (Kenny, 1995) was used to imple-
ment the SRM analyses of these peer ratings. To measure the level
of consensus in peer ratings, the variance partitioning analysis
provided by the SRM (Kenny & La Voie, 1984) was used. Spe-
cifically, SOREMO estimates the extent to which the total variance
in peer ratings of each dimension is due to target variance. Target
variance reflects the role of the target or “ratee” on peer ratings.
Larger target variance indicates that some targets consistently
elicit higher ratings than others. Accordingly, larger target vari-
ance also indicates higher consensus among perceivers. For exam-
ple, if some group members are consistently perceived as more
competent than are other group members, then this demonstrates
higher consensus among group members in their judgments of
competence. More specifically, relative target variance was used
as the index of consensus in peer ratings, which is the proportion
of total variance in peer ratings that is accounted for by targets
because it provides a more intuitive measure of consensus.
SOREMO also calculates a target score for each participant on
each peer-rated dimension. A participant’s target score is essen-
tially the average of the ratings given to him or her on that
dimension. Higher target scores indicate being perceived as higher
on that dimension by others. SOREMO removes group differences
from target scores, making them statistically independent of group
membership.
SRM analyses of outside observer ratings. The ratings by the
two sets of outside observers, the independent peer judges and the
research staff members, constituted two half-block designs. There-
fore, the software program BLOCKO (Kenny, 1995) was used to
implement the SRM analyses of their ratings. Similar to
SOREMO, BLOCKO calculates a target score for each participant
on each dimension, which is the average of the judges’ ratings of
him or her on that dimension. BLOCKO also removes group
differences, making target scores statistically independent of group
membership.
Aggregate Measures
Group member ratings of influence. The relative target vari-
ance was significant for the three influence items, 60% on average
across the three items (Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006).
1
After
reverse scoring the rankings-based target scores, the target effects
for these three dimensions were also highly correlated with each
other (coefficient ␣⫽.94), so they were combined into one overall
measure of influence in the group.
Peer ratings of competence. When target variance is not sig-
nificant, judges have not achieved consensus on a particular di-
mension, and target effects are too unreliable to provide meaning-
ful correlations (Kenny, 1994). Therefore, a dimension was
included in the analyses only when there was significant consensus
within at least two of the three sets of judges (group members,
independent peer judges, and research staff members).
Four task competence-related dimensions met this threshold,
and were thus included in the analyses: “skills and expertise that
would allow him/her to perform well on the group task (e.g.,
creativity, analytical abilities),” “general intelligence,” “depend-
able and self-disciplined,” and “conventional and uncreative.” The
relative target variances (i.e., consensus among judges) within
each of the three sets of judges are displayed in Table 1. After
reverse scoring the negatively worded item, the target effects for
these dimensions were also highly intercorrelated within each set
of judges. Therefore, three aggregate measures were created, one
for each set of judges: group-rated task competence,independent
peer-rated task competence, and research staff member-rated task
competence. The coefficient alpha reliabilities (i.e., interitem con-
sistency) are displayed in Table 1.
1
It is important to note that target effects should not be interpreted as
alpha reliability coefficients (Kenny, Albright, Malloy, & Kashy, 1994);
the magnitude of relative target variance reflects the proportion of variance
explained by targets. As an example, group members tend to exhibit high
consensus in perceiving each other’s extraversion, and thus produce alpha
reliabilities above the .70 level; yet, the relative target variance in ratings
of extraversion tends to be in the low .30s in group contexts (Kenny et al.,
1994). Target effects should be interpreted only when they are statistically
significant (Kenny, 1994).
494 ANDERSON AND KILDUFF
Four social competence-related dimensions met the consensus
threshold, and were thus included in the analyses: “leadership
ability (i.e., the ability to coordinate group activities and motivate
a group to pursue a common goal),” “verbal skills,” “extraverted
and enthusiastic,” and “reserved and quiet.” The relative target
variances for each of the three sets of judges are displayed in Table 1.
After reverse scoring the negatively worded item, the target effects for
these dimensions were also highly intercorrelated within each set of
judges. Therefore, three aggregate measures were created, one for
each set of judges: group-rated social competence,independent
peer-rated social competence, and research staff member-rated
social competence. The coefficient alpha reliabilities for each of
the three sets of judges are also displayed in Table 1.
Post hoc analyses indicated that the ratings made by indepen-
dent peer judges correlated highly with those made by the mem-
bers of the research staff. The independent peer judge-rated task
competence aggregate correlated with the research staff member-
rated task competence aggregate (coefficient ␣⫽.80), r(62)
.67, p.01, and the independent peer judge-rated social compe-
tence aggregate correlated with the research staff member-rated
social competence aggregate (coefficient ␣⫽.94), r(62) .88,
p.01). In light of this agreement across the two sets of outside
observers, the ratings made by these two sets of judges were
combined, leaving two overall aggregate measures of outside
observer-rated task competence and outside observer-rated social
competence.
Results and Discussion
Did Group Members’ Perceptions of Competence Mediate
the Link Between Trait Dominance and Influence in the
Group?
Consistent with prior research, trait dominance predicted influ-
ence attained in the group, r(66) .45, p.01. Thus, individuals
high in trait dominance attained influence more than individuals
lower in trait dominance. We next tested our primary hypothesis,
whether the relation between trait dominance and influence in the
group was mediated by groups’ perceptions of competence.
We first tested whether trait dominance predicted the proposed
mediator; in separate regression analyses, we found that trait
dominance predicted the group-rated task competence aggregate
(␤⫽.34), t(66) 2.93, p.01, and the social competence
aggregate (␤⫽.38), t(66) 3.35, p.01. We then tested whether
the mediator predicted the outcome variable while controlling for
the predictor variable; in separate regression analyses, we found
that the group-rated task competence aggregate (␤⫽.59), t(65)
6.69, p.01, and the social competence aggregate (␤⫽.78),
t(65) 11.79, p.01, each predicted influence after controlling
for trait dominance. The effect of trait dominance on influence in
the group dropped to ␤⫽.28, t(65) 3.18, p.01, and ␤⫽.19,
t(65) 2.81, p.01, respectively, after controlling for the
group-rated task and social competence aggregates. We used a
Sobel (1982) test of the indirect effects. In separate regressions, we
found that the indirect effects were significant for the group-rated
task competence aggregate (␤⫽.20), t(65) 2.68, p.01, and
for the social competence aggregate (␤⫽.29), t(65) 3.22, p
.01. Therefore, each variable partially mediated the relationship
between trait dominance and influence in the group.
We next examined the relative mediating strength of group-
rated task and social competence. Following Leonardelli and Tor-
mala (2003), we predicted the influence variable with the two medi-
ators simultaneously. This full analysis is displayed in Figure 1. (Note
that the two mediators correlated highly with each other, r(66) .72,
p.01, and thus this analysis should be interpreted with caution,
given problems introduced by multicollinearity.)
In this analysis, the mediated effect of group-rated task compe-
tence approached significance (␤⫽.25), t(64)1.49, p.07,
whereas the mediated effect of group-rated social competence
remained significant (␤⫽.69), t(64)7.69, p.01. Sobel tests
showed that the indirect effect of group-rated task competence was
not significant, t(65) 1.32, ns, but that the indirect effect of
group-rated social competence was, t(65) 3.07, p.01. These
analyses suggest that group-rated social competence might have
played a stronger mediating role in the effects of trait dominance
on influence in the group than did group-rated task competence.
Grou
p
-rated Task
.34
**
.13
p
Competence
.45
**
(.18
*
)
Influence in the
Group
Personality
Dominance
Group-rated Social
Competence
.38
**
.69
**
Competence
Figure 1. Mediation by group-rated task and social competence in Study 1.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
p.10.
Table 1
Study 1: Interjudge and Interitem Reliability of the
Peer-Ratings Measures
Measure
Group
members’
ratings
Independent
peer judges’
ratings
Research staff
members’
ratings
Peer-rated task competence
Interjudge consensus (SRM
relative target variance) 13% 24% 29%
Interitem consistency
(coefficient alpha
reliability) .76 .82 .92
Peer-rated social competence
Interjudge consensus (SRM
relative target variance) 42% 47% 50%
Inter-item consistency
(Coefficient alpha
reliability) .88 .89 .93
Note. Independent peer judges’ and research staff members’ ratings were
based on a videotape of the group session. “SRM relative target variance”
refers to a social relations model (SRM) analysis (Kenny & La Voie, 1984)
estimate of the proportion of total variance in peer ratings that is accounted
for by “ratees” or targets. Larger target variance indicates higher consensus
among perceivers.
495
TRAIT DOMINANCE AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE
The effect of trait dominance on influence in the group dropped to
␤⫽.18, t(64) 2.67, p.01. These analyses suggest that the
combined effects of group-rated task and social competence par-
tially mediated the effect of trait dominance on influence in the
group and that group-rated social competence might have played a
stronger mediating role than group-rated task competence.
Did Trait Dominance Predict Being Perceived as
Competent by Outside Observers?
It was important to rule out the possibility that group members’
perceptions of dominant individuals’ superior competence were
simply post hoc constructions, formed to rationalize the hierarchy
after it emerged (e.g., Lee & Ofshe, 1981). To do so, we tested
whether outside observers also perceived more dominant individ-
uals as more competent. More specifically, we tested whether
outside observers’ perceptions of competence also mediated the
relation between trait dominance and influence in the group.
Just as it predicted group members’ perceptions of competence,
trait dominance predicted both perceptions of task competence
(␤⫽.39), t(64)3.32, p.01, and social competence (␤⫽.38),
t(64)3.27, p.01, as rated by our outside observers. Following
Leonardelli and Tormala (2003), we again entered both proposed
mediators into the equation simultaneously. This analysis is dis-
played in Figure 2. The inclusion of the two proposed mediators in
the model caused the effect of trait dominance on influence in the
group to drop to ␤⫽.18, t(64) 2.67, p.01. Sobel tests
showed that the indirect effect of outside observer-rated task
competence approached significance, t(65) 1.66, p.10, and
that the indirect effect of outside observer-rated social competence
was significant, t(65) 2.07, p.05. These analyses suggest that
the effects of group-rated task and social competence partially
mediated the effect of trait dominance on influence in the group.
They also suggest that both outside observer-rated task and social
competence played mediating roles because both still had signif-
icant effects on influence while controlling for the other.
Summary
We found support for our primary hypothesis, in that the relation
between trait dominance and influence in the group was partially
mediated by group-rated competence. This suggests that more
dominant individuals achieved influence in their groups in part
because they were seen as more competent by fellow group mem-
bers. Furthermore, we also found outside observers’ ratings medi-
ated the link between trait dominance and influence in the group.
This suggests group members’ perceptions of dominant individu-
als’ competence were not biased distortions that were constructed
to justify the emergent hierarchy. Rather, dominant individuals
seemed to truly appear more competent than their less dominant
teammates.
Study 2
We had two primary aims in Study 2. First, we addressed a
potential alternative explanation for the findings in Study 1.
Namely, it is possible that even outside observers’ perceptions of
dominant individuals’ competence were post hoc constructions,
formed only after dominant individuals achieved influence in the
groups. Research on implicit leadership theory has shown that after
watching a group work together, outside observers recalled that the
leaders exhibited more “leaderlike” behaviors than they actually
did (Rush, Phillips, & Lord, 1981). Accordingly, it is possible that
even the outside observers in Study 1 inaccurately recalled dom-
inant individuals as exhibiting more competence than they actually
did. In other words, outside observers might have inferred indi-
viduals’ competence from the influence those individuals attained,
rather than judging competence and influence independently.
To account for this possibility, we took the additional step in
Study 2 of tallying the number of times participants engaged in
specific, discrete behaviors that conveyed competence. Such an
objective measure should not be prone to the potential biases that
subjective ratings of competence might be shaped by. We expected
that trait dominance would predict higher frequencies of
competence-signaling behaviors, confirming the idea that domi-
nant individuals do indeed display more behaviors that signal
competence.
Second, we wanted to show more conclusively that trait domi-
nance predicts higher peer-rated competence, above and beyond
individuals’ actual competence. That is, does trait dominance
predict peer ratings of competence even when controlling for an
objective measure of competence? Given the difficulties research-
ers have had in constructing a single valid, objective measure of
social skills (cf. DePaulo & Friedman, 1998), we focused on task
skills and selected a group task that would allow for the objective
measurement of task abilities. Specifically, we had groups work
together on math problems and measured participants’ quantitative
skills with two separate indices: participants’ scores on standard-
ized aptitude tests and the accuracy of participants’ answers in the
group task. We hypothesized that individuals higher in trait dom-
inance would achieve increased influence even when controlling
for these objective measures of task competence.
An additional benefit of using math problems was that we could
examine whether the effects in Study 1 generalize to tasks in which
individuals’ competence may be less ambiguous. When compe-
tence is more clear-cut and easily perceived by others, the effects
of trait dominance on peer-rated competence might be attenuated
because people can accurately discern who is actually more or less
competent. Using math problems as the group task therefore pre-
sents a stronger test of our hypotheses.
Outside Observer-
tdT k
.39
**
.33
*
*
ra
t
e
dT
as
k
Competence
.45
**
(.15
*
)
Influence in the
Group
Personality
Dominance
Outside Observer-
rated Social
C
.38
**
.47
**
C
ompetence
Figure 2. Mediation by outside observer-rated task and social compe-
tence competence in Study 1.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
496 ANDERSON AND KILDUFF
Method
Participants
Our sample included 100 undergraduate students (44% men,
56% women) at a West Coast university who were assigned to one
of 25 four-person same-sex groups; in assembling groups, efforts
were made to ensure that members were unacquainted with each
other. Participants were 21 years old on average (SD 1.77); 13%
were African American, 42% were Asian/Asian American, 26%
were Caucasian, 6% were Latin American, and 13% reported
“other.” They received course credit for their participation.
Procedure
The procedure was nearly identical to that in Study 1. Partici-
pants completed a self-report measure, worked together in four-
person groups while being videotaped (this time for 30 min), and
rated fellow group members after the task. Participants were again
told that the highest performing group would be paid $400, and
were again rated by independent peer judges and members of the
research staff on the basis of the videotapes of their group inter-
actions.
Study 2, however, was different in three important ways. First,
rather than inventing an organization, groups worked together on
a set of math problems taken from previous versions of the
Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT), which is used
primarily for selection into graduate schools of business (Hecht &
Schraeder, 1986). The highest performing group (i.e., the group
that answered the most problems correctly and fewest problems
incorrectly) was again paid $400. Second, an independent judge
blind to the research questions tallied the number of behaviors
participants exhibited that signaled competence or incompetence at
the task. Third, a second independent judge recorded each partic-
ipant’s specific answer suggestions, allowing us to calculate the
accuracy of each participant’s answers.
Therefore, there were a total of 12 sources of ratings of data per
participant in Study 2. It incorporated a round-robin design, two
half-block designs, an independent coder’s frequency counts of
participant behavior, and a measure of the accuracy of participants’
answers in the group task, as derived from a second independent
coder.
Pretask Self-Report Measures
Participants rated their own trait dominance with the same three
items used in Study 1. The three items were intercorrelated and
thus combined into one measure (coefficient reliability .83).
Participants also reported their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
score on the math component. The problems used in the GMAT
are highly similar to those in the SAT; thus, participants with
higher scores on the math component of the SAT were expected to
be more capable of solving the GMAT math problems.
Posttask Peer Ratings Made by Group Members
Influence in the group. Group members rated and ranked each
other’s influence using the same three items as in Study 1. The
average relative variance across the three items was M73%,
indicating group members agreed highly on who had more influ-
ence in the group than others. After reverse scoring the rankings-
based target scores, the three dimensions had a coefficient alpha
reliability of .90, indicating high internal consistency of the overall
influence measure, and were thus combined into one overall mea-
sure of influence in the group.
Competence and personality dimensions. After the group task,
participants rated each group member on the same competence and
personality dimensions as in Study 1.
Ratings of Competence Made by Outside
Observers From Videotape
Seventy-five undergraduate students served as independent peer
judges, and again there were three outside peer judges per video-
tape (a different set of judges than those in Study 1). These judges
were again recruited from the same subject pool as the partici-
pants; they also received course credit for their participation. Six
new members of the research staff (a different set of research staff
members than those in Study 1) blind to the research questions
served as outside observers.
Deriving Aggregate Peer-Ratings Measures
SOREMO and BLOCKO were again used to implement the
SRM analyses of the group members’ and outside observers’
ratings, respectively. As in Study 1, only a dimension in the
analyses was included if at least two of the three sets of judges
showed significant target variance (i.e., consensus) in rating that
dimension.
Two task competence dimensions met this threshold, and were
thus included in the analyses: math-related skills and “dependable
and self-disciplined.” The relative target variances (i.e., consensus
among judges) within each of the three sets of judges are displayed
in Table 2. The target effects for these dimensions were also highly
Table 2
Study 2: Interjudge and Interitem Reliability of the
Peer-Ratings Measures
Measure
Group
members’
ratings
Independent
peer judges’
ratings
Research staff
members’
ratings
Peer-rated task competence
Interjudge consensus
(SRM relative target
variance) 24% 34% 34%
Interitem consistency
(interitem correlation) .67 .82 .83
Peer-rated social competence
Interjudge consensus
(SRM relative target
variance) 28% 53% 48%
Interitem consistency
(coefficient alpha
reliability) .90 .88 .92
Note. Independent peer judges’ and research staff members’ ratings were
based on a videotape of the group session. “SRM relative target variance”
refers to a social relations model (SRM) analysis (Kenny & La Voie, 1984)
estimate of the proportion of total variance in peer ratings that is accounted
for by “ratees” or targets. Larger target variance indicates higher consensus
among perceivers.
497
TRAIT DOMINANCE AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE
intercorrelated within each set of judges, so three aggregate mea-
sures were created, one for each set of judges: group-rated task
competence,independent peer-rated task competence, and re-
search staff member-rated task competence. The interitem corre-
lations are displayed in Table 2.
Three social competence dimensions also met this consensus
threshold: “leadership ability (i.e., the ability to coordinate group
activities and motivate a group to pursue a common goal),” “ex-
traverted and enthusiastic,” and “reserved and quiet.” The relative
target variances for each of the three sets of judges are displayed
in Table 2. After reverse scoring the negatively worded item, the
target effects for these dimensions were also highly intercorrelated
within each set of judges, so three aggregate measures were
created, one for each set of judges: group-rated social competence,
independent peer-rated social competence, and research staff
member-rated social competence. The coefficient alpha reliabilities
for each of the three sets of judges are also displayed in Table 2.
As in Study 1, the independent peer judge-rated task compe-
tence aggregate correlated with the research staff member-rated
task competence aggregate (coefficient reliability .78),
r(98) .64, p.01, and the independent peer judge-rated social
competence aggregate correlated with the research staff member-
rated social competence aggregate (coefficient reliability .85),
r(98) .64, p.01. Thus, ratings made by these two sets of
judges were again combined to form two overall aggregate mea-
sures of outside observer-rated task competence and outside
observer-rated social competence.
Codes of Discrete Behaviors From Videotape
An independent coder blind to the research questions tallied
participants’ discrete behaviors that were related to the display of
competence. The coder tallied behaviors from the first 10 min of
each videotape because previous research has shown that individ-
uals who contribute early in a group’s deliberation, rather than
later, are particularly likely to emerge as leaders (Bass, 1981;
Shaw, 1961). To ensure reliability of codes, a second independent
judge coded five of the groups (20% of the entire sample; a total
of 20 individuals). The two judges reached satisfactory levels of
agreement on the number of times participants exhibited the fol-
lowing behaviors: putting forth an answer to a problem (e.g., “I
think the answer is A”; coefficient reliability .97; M3.60,
SD 3.06), putting forth an answer to a particular problem before
any other group member did (coefficient reliability .93; M
1.99, SD 2.11), putting forth an answer to a problem after at
least one answer had already been suggested (this could include
agreeing or disagreeing with an answer already provided; coeffi-
cient reliability .68; M1.61, SD 1.58), providing
information relevant to the problem (this could include suggesting
how to approach the problem or calculating the intermediate steps
necessary to solve the problem; coefficient reliability .86;
M2.41, SD 2.06), and making a statement about his or her
low math ability (coefficient reliability .71; M0.47, SD
0.81). Statements about high math abilities were coded as occur-
ring only once by one judge and zero times by the other judge, and
statements about the ease or difficulty of the task were coded as
never occurring by either judge. It is worth noting that in 94% of
cases (in 171 occurrences out of all 182 problems coded), groups
used the first answer provided as their final answer; therefore,
there seemed to be little disagreement among group members in
their deliberations. Rather, groups tended to commit to the first
answer provided by any group member.
The Accuracy of Individuals’ Answers in the Group Task
To calculate the accuracy of participants’ answers they offered
in the group task, an independent coder (different from the previ-
ous independent coders) tallied the number of correct and incorrect
answers participants provided. Behavior from the first 10 min of
the videotape was tallied. To establish reliability, a second inde-
pendent coder also coded 24% of the videotapes (a total of 24
individuals). The coders exhibited satisfactory levels of agreement
in tallying how many correct answers participants provided (coef-
ficient reliability .80) as well as in tallying the incorrect
answers participants provided (coefficient reliability .78).
2
An
accuracy index was derived by dividing the number of accurate
answers participants provided by the total number of answers they
provided so that higher scores indicated providing relatively more
correct than incorrect answers.
3
Of the 100 participants, 11 did not
answer any questions at all, thus preventing measurement of their
accuracy. Therefore, in analyses of accuracy, the focus was solely
on individuals who provided at least one answer.
Results and Discussion
Did Group Members’ Perceptions of Competence Mediate
the Link Between Trait Dominance and Influence in the
Group?
As in Study 1, trait dominance predicted influence attainment in
the group, r(98) .46, p.01. This indicates that individuals
higher in trait dominance attained higher levels of influence. It is
worth noting that the correlation was nearly identical to that in
Study 1, even though the task involved in the two studies required
very different competencies.
We next examined whether the link between trait dominance
and influence in the group was mediated by group members’
perceptions of competence. Trait dominance predicted the group-
rated task competence aggregate (␤⫽.34), t(98) 3.53, p.01,
and the group-rated social competence aggregate (␤⫽.32),
t(98) 3.35, p.01. We also found in separate regression
analyses that the group-rated task competence aggregate (␤⫽.72),
t(97) 11.51, p.01, and the group-rated social competence
aggregate (␤⫽.53), t(97) 6.65, p.01, each predicted
2
The reader might wonder why interrater agreement for the tallies of
correct and incorrect answers was not even higher, given the apparent ease
of determining whether a particular answer is correct. These raters were
asked both to establish anew whether an answer was offered and to judge
the meaning of what were sometimes quite ambiguous comments. Both of
these ambiguities worked against rater reliability.
3
Sometimes participants stated an answer to a problem and then later
changed their mind and provided a different answer. In these situations, we
coded the final answer they provided so that participants would get credit
for a correct answer if they first gave an incorrect answer but then changed
their mind and argued for the correct answer; at the same time, participants
were penalized if they first gave the correct answer but changed their mind
and argued for an incorrect answer.
498 ANDERSON AND KILDUFF
influence after controlling for trait dominance. The effect of trait
dominance on influence in the group dropped to ␤⫽.22, t(96)
3.52, p.01, and ␤⫽.29, t(96) 3.69, p.01, respectively,
after controlling for the group-rated task and social competence
aggregates. Finally, using a Sobel (1982) test, we found that the
indirect effects were significant for the group-rated task compe-
tence aggregate (␤⫽.24), t(97) 3.37, p.01, and the group-
rated social competence aggregate (␤⫽.17), t(97) 2.99, p
.01). Therefore, each variable partially mediated the relationship
between trait dominance and influence in the group.
As in Study 1, we also examined the relative mediating strength
of group-rated task and social competence. In this study, the two
mediators were correlated at r(66) .44, p.01, and thus did not
present the same multicollinearity problems as did the mediators in
Study 1. The full analysis is displayed in Figure 3. In a simulta-
neous regression analysis, the mediated effects of both group-rated
task competence, t(97) 10.15, p.01, and group-rated social
competence, t(97)5.14, p.01, were significant. The effect of
trait dominance on influence in the group dropped to ␤⫽.16,
t(96) 2.81, p.01. Sobel (1982) tests showed that the indirect
effects were significant for the group-rated task competence ag-
gregate, t(97) 3.33, p.01, and the group-rated social compe-
tence aggregate, t(97) 2.81, p.01. Thus, both group-rated task
and social competence played a partially mediating role in the
effects of trait dominance on influence in the group. This finding
differs from Study 1, in which group-rated social competence
seemed to play a stronger mediating role.
Did Trait Dominance Predict Being Perceived as
Competent by Outside Observers?
Again, it was important to rule out the possibility that groups
constructed positive perceptions of individuals higher in trait dom-
inance to justify the influence hierarchies that had emerged (e.g.,
Lee & Ofshe, 1981). As in Study 1, we again examined whether
outside observers’ perceptions of dominant individuals’ compe-
tence mediated the relation between trait dominance and influence
in the group.
Following Leonardelli and Tormala (2003), we again entered
both mediators into the equation simultaneously. This analysis is
displayed in Figure 4. Using Sobel tests, we found that the indirect
effect for group-rated task competence remained significant when
first controlling for group-rated social competence, t(97)3.33,
p.01, as did the indirect effect for group-rated social compe-
tence when controlling for group-rated task competence, t(97)
2.81, p.01. The effect of trait dominance on influence in the
group dropped to ␤⫽.18, t(64) 2.67, p.01. These analyses
suggest that the combined effects of group-rated task and social
competence partially mediated the effect of trait dominance on
influence in the group. They also suggest that both outside
observer-rated task and social competence played a mediating role.
Did Individuals Higher in Trait Dominance Behave in
Ways That Signaled Superior Quantitative Skills?
We next wanted to show more conclusively that individuals
higher in trait dominance behaved in ways that signaled high
quantitative skills to help rule out the possibility that even the
outside observers’ judgments of dominant individuals’ compe-
tence were biased. As expected, trait dominance predicted putting
forth more answers to problems, r(98) .23, p.01. This
correlation was driven largely by the correlation between trait
dominance and providing an answer before any other group mem-
ber did, r(98) .27, p.05. In contrast, trait dominance did not
predict putting forth an answer after someone else had already
suggested one, r(98) .08, ns. Trait dominance also predicted
providing information relevant to the problem, r(98) .19, p
.05, but it did not relate to the frequency of statements about low
math abilities, r(98) .12, ns.
Also as expected, being perceived by group members as having
higher quantitative skills was predicted by providing more answers
to problems, r(98) .58, p.01, providing first answers to
problems, r(98) .57, p.01, and providing information relevant
to problems, r(98) .48, p.01.
Finally, we conducted a mediation analysis to examine whether
individuals high in trait dominance were perceived as having
higher quantitative skills because they displayed more
competence-related behaviors. We found in separate regression
analyses that putting forth first answers (␤⫽.52), t(97) 6.17,
p.01, and providing problem-relevant information (␤⫽.44),
t(97) 5.02, p.01, each predicted peer-rated quantitative skills
Group-rated Task
Ct
.34
**
.60
**
C
ompe
t
ence
.46
**
(.16
*
*
)
Influence in the
Group
Personality
Dominance
Group-rated Social
Competence
.32
**
.30
**
Figure 3. Mediation by group-rated task and social competence in Study 2.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
Outside Observe
r
-
.31
**
.53
**
rated Task
Competence
.45
**
(.21
*
)
Influence in the
Group
Personality
Dominance
Outside Observer-
rated Social
.36
**
.22
**
rated Social
Competence
Figure 4. Mediation by outside observer-rated task and social compe-
tence in Study 2.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
499
TRAIT DOMINANCE AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE
after controlling for trait dominance. In Sobel (1982) tests, the
indirect effect for putting forth first answers was significant (␤⫽
.14), t(97) 2.52, p.01, although the indirect effect for
providing problem-relevant information only approached signifi-
cance (␤⫽.08), t(97) 1.75, p.08. So, these findings suggest
dominant individuals indeed exhibited behaviors that signaled
competence; it helps rule out the possibility that they were simply
perceived as more competent due to motivated biases.
Did Trait Dominance Predict Peer Ratings of Competence
Even When Controlling for Their Actual Competence?
Finally, we examined whether individuals high in trait domi-
nance were perceived by their groups as more competent, even
when controlling for their actual competence. Because we had
objective measures of quantitative abilities, we focused specifi-
cally on perceptions of individuals’ quantitative skills.
Focusing first on participants’ SAT math scores, we first found
that trait dominance did not correlate with their SAT math scores,
r(98) .18, ns, suggesting that trait dominance was unrelated to
task competence. Furthermore, controlling for individuals’ actual
SAT math scores, trait dominance still predicted the group’s per-
ception of their math abilities, r(94) .28, p.01. Thus, trait
dominance seemed to provide individuals with a boost in peer-
rated competence above and beyond their actual competence.
Trait dominance was also unrelated to the accuracy of partici-
pants’ answers in the group task, r(87) .06, ns, in addition to the
accuracy of the first answers they provided, r(70) ⫽⫺.05, ns.
Therefore, although individuals higher in trait dominance tended to
provide more first answers and answers overall, their answers were
no more accurate than those provided by other members.
Finally, controlling for the accuracy in individuals’ answers in
the group task, trait dominance still predicted the group’s percep-
tion of their math abilities, r(86) .24, p.05. Thus, even when
controlling for individuals’ objective task performance, individuals
high in personality dominance were perceived as having higher
task competence.
Summary
As in Study 1, we found that the relation between trait domi-
nance and influence in the group was partially mediated by group-
rated competence, suggesting that more dominant individuals
achieved influence in their groups because they were seen as more
competent by fellow group members. Furthermore, perceptions of
competence by outside observers also partially mediated the link
between trait dominance and influence in the group. This suggests
group members’ perceptions were not biased distortions that were
shaped by the motivation to justify the emergent hierarchy. Fi-
nally, these patterns held up even after controlling for objective
indices of actual task skills. Therefore, dominant individuals
achieved higher levels of influence in part because they acted in
ways that caused them to be perceived as more competent, despite
not actually being any more competent than their less dominant
counterparts.
General Discussion
In two studies of face-to-face groups, we found that individuals
higher in trait dominance attained influence in part because they
were perceived as more competent by their fellow group members.
Moreover, trait dominance predicted elevated peer perceptions of
competence across two very different kinds of group tasks— one
that involved creativity and analytical thinking (Study 1) and
another that involved a set of math problems with definitive
answers (Study 2). In fact, in Study 2 we found that individuals
higher in trait dominance were perceived as more competent even
when controlling for their actual competence, using two bench-
marks of ability (standardized test scores and the accuracy of
individuals’ answers provided in the group task).
We also ruled out an important alternative explanation for these
findings. Namely, it was possible that dominant individuals were
perceived as more competent because of their achieved influence,
rather than the other way around. Our studies ruled out this
possibility in two ways. First, we found that outside independent
observers rated dominant individuals as more competent, just as
fellow group members did. This suggests that dominant individu-
als truly appeared competent—not that they achieved influence
and in turn were seen as competent by group members. Second,
using frequency counts of discrete behaviors, we found that dom-
inant individuals exhibited more competence-signaling behaviors
such as providing answers and problem-relevant information.
Implications
The present findings are important in part because they shed
light on the personality trait dominance itself. It has been argued
that the primary “function” of dominance is to establish control
and influence in social settings (Gough, McClosky, & Meehl,
1951; Horowitz et al., 2006; Wiggins, 1979). That is, the behaviors
associated with trait dominance first and foremost aim to achieve
influence vis-a`-vis others. In support of this contention, an abun-
dance of studies have found strong correlations between trait
dominance and social influence (for reviews, see Judge et al.,
2002; Lord et al., 1986).
Exactly how dominant individuals attain social influence has
never been fully explained, however. Our studies suggest that the
term dominance could be somewhat misleading in this regard
because it implies a more aggressive approach than dominant
individuals might actually adopt in attaining influence. The term
dominance implies behaviors such as bullying and intimidation,
and indeed, some theorists have argued that dominant individuals
do attain influence through these heavy-handed tactics (Lee &
Ofshe, 1981; Mazur, 1985). Yet, we found that dominant individ-
uals attained influence through a very different path, by displaying
competence and signaling their value to the group. These findings
suggest that dominant individuals may ascend group hierarchies by
appearing helpful to the group’s overall success as opposed to
aggressively grabbing power. Indeed, it seems that dominance
leads to influence at least in part because it entails more confident
and initiative-taking behaviors, such as putting forth answers to
problems before others do.
We do not wish to argue that the core feature of personality
dominance is to send a misleading signal of competence to others.
Rather, trait dominance might be best defined by its primary social
outcome, the establishment of influence in interpersonal settings
(Gough et al., 1951; Wiggins, 1979). Individuals higher in trait
dominance are perhaps defined by their striving and attainment of
control and power in dyads and face-to-face groups.
500 ANDERSON AND KILDUFF
In contributing to researchers’ understanding of trait dominance,
the present research also helps solve another long-standing puzzle.
Though functionalist theories of influence have received ample
empirical support, one prominent and pervasive finding seemed to
contradict the functionalist perspective. Namely, trait dominance
consistently emerges as one of the strongest predictors of influ-
ence. By linking personality dominance to displays of competence,
our findings confirm that perceptions of competence indeed lie at
the heart of influence allocation processes in groups— groups do
try to put the most competent people in charge. Thus, our findings
lend further support to functionalist theories of group hierarchies.
However, our findings in Study 2 also suggest a potential
byproduct of the link between perceptions of competence and
influence: More assertive individuals might sometimes gain influ-
ence above and beyond what their actual competence warrants, and
skilled members who are low in trait dominance might be unjus-
tifiably ignored. Such a dynamic would likely hamper group
productivity and performance, as it would fail to leverage the
group’s collective competences to the fullest. In short, although
groups strive to construct functional hierarchies on the basis of
competence, differences in trait dominance might hamper this
goal.
The present work also extends research on competence percep-
tions, which has focused on factors that shape self- and peer
perceptions of competence, intelligence, and abilities (e.g.,
Borkenau, Mauer, Riemann, Spinath, & Angleitner, 2004; Dun-
ning, Meyerowitz, & Holzberg, 1989; Paulhus & Morgan, 1997;
Todorov, Mandisodza, Goren, & Hall, 2005). That work has often
addressed the accuracy with which individuals perceive their own
and others’ competence and the variables that affect the accuracy
of such perceptions. Past work has discovered a number of vari-
ables that may shape perceptions of competence such as the
target’s age, gender, or physical attributes (Berger et al., 1972;
Todorov et al., 2005). Our findings indicate that a target individ-
ual’s personality traits, even those unrelated to competence, can
also shape perceptions of competence. Indeed, it seems that certain
personality traits (in this case, dominance) can distort perceptions
of abilities and make it more difficult to detect who is more or less
competent.
Strengths, Limitations, and Future Directions
The present research had a number of strengths. First, the data
were extensive. We obtained 10 different sources of data for each
participant in Study 1 (self-report, ratings by three other group
members, three outside peer observers, and three research staff
members), and 12 sources of data for each participant in Study 2
(by adding frequency counts and accuracy calculations from other
outside coders). Second, we used two tasks that were quite differ-
ent from each other, which helped increase the generalizability of
results. Third, the data were collected in the controlled setting of
the laboratory, allowing us to assemble groups of strangers who
did not possess prior knowledge of each other’s abilities, videotape
group interactions, and use the social relations model (Kenny &
La Voie, 1984) to construct precise measures of group member
perceptions.
Collecting data within the laboratory, however, meant that there
were also limitations that future research should address. For
example, because we studied groups that worked together for a
relatively short time, we do not know whether our effects would
remain over longer durations. Would dominant individuals retain
their influence in the long run, even if they lacked abilities related
to the task? On one hand, some research shows that once hierar-
chies develop in groups, they are extremely stable over time
(Anderson, John, Keltner, & Kring, 2001; Bell & French, 1950;
Fiske & Cox, 1960; Kalma, 1991; Nelson & Berry, 1965). This is
partly because individuals who are presumed to be more compe-
tent at the group task receive more chances to contribute and are
more likely to put forth answers and ideas, whereas individuals
lower in the hierarchy stay silent (e.g., Berger et al., 1972).
Accordingly, dominant individuals might continue to behave in
competence-signaling ways and retain their influence in the long
run.
On the other hand, some findings suggest that when groups
work closely together, influence becomes more closely tied to
actual abilities. For example, one study of groups found that
initially, shy individuals were perceived as less intelligent by
fellow group members because they spoke less; however, over
time shyness was unrelated to peer ratings of intelligence, and,
instead, actual intelligence predicted peer-rated intelligence
(Paulhus & Morgan, 1997). These findings suggest that dominant
individuals may not continue to behave in ways that signal com-
petence over time, but in fact might speak less and less. Thus,
dominant individuals may eventually gain a place in the hierarchy
more appropriate to their abilities.
On a related note, future research should examine whether the
effects we observed hold up in real-world contexts such as orga-
nizational teams, where the stakes are higher. In such settings,
dominant individuals might be more motivated to defer to those
who actually have high levels of competence because their own
job performance may depend on their whole team’s success. Less
dominant individuals might similarly be more motivated and thus
less likely to defer to others when they possess high task compe-
tence. It is possible, therefore, that trait dominance will not lead to
the same competence-signaling behavior in such contexts. How-
ever, research suggests that trait dominance does lead to influence
even in real-world groups where the stakes are high (Judge et al.,
2002). Therefore, dominant individuals might not defer to others,
even when others possess abilities superior to their own.
Furthermore, although we focused on small face-to-face group
settings, future research should examine the effects of trait domi-
nance on influence in larger, more complex social systems, such as
work organizations. In organizations, influence is determined by a
host of factors, including one’s position of authority and the
prestige of one’s subunit (Perrow, 1970). Thus, the effects of trait
dominance might be attenuated; however, this remains an inter-
esting question for future research. Recent research also found that
individuals’ influence is partly determined by the fit between their
personality traits and their organization’s culture (Anderson, Spa-
taro, & Flynn, 2008), suggesting that trait dominance might have
differing affects in different organizations.
Finally, how might trait dominance affect the influence of
political leaders? Of course, defining the “influence” of leaders
such as elected officials is much more complicated than defining
the influence of individuals in small face-to-face groups. For
example, one must specify the constituents the leader is trying to
influence. The influence a U.S. President has over his cabinet is
distinct from the influence he wields over his nation’s citizens,
501
TRAIT DOMINANCE AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE
which in turn is distinct from the influence he has vis-a`-vis other
heads of state. As such, the effects of trait dominance might
depend on the constituents under consideration. Furthermore, even
when just considering a politician’s influence over his or her
electorate, trait dominance might help attain influence only among
citizens who share the same political ideology.
Conclusion
Trait dominance is one of the strongest predictors of influence in
face-to-face settings. Why this is so has long been a mystery
because individuals gain influence primarily by exhibiting com-
petence. We found that dominant individuals behaved in ways that
made them appear competent to others, above and beyond their
actual competence levels. In turn, this apparent competence helped
them ascend social hierarchies.
References
Akert, R. M., & Panter, A. T. (1988). Extraversion and the ability to decode
nonverbal communication. Personality and Individual Differences, 9,
965–972.
Anderson, C., & Berdahl, J. L. (2002). The experience of power: Exam-
ining the effects of power on approach and inhibition tendencies. Jour-
nal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1362–1377.
Anderson, C., John, O. P., Keltner, D., & Kring, A. M. (2001). Who attains
social status? Effects of personality traits and physical attractiveness in
social groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 116 –
132.
Anderson, C., Spataro, S., & Flynn, F. J. (2008). Personality and organi-
zational culture as determinants of influence. Journal of Applied Psy-
chology, 93, 702–710.
Anderson, C., Srivastava, S., Beer, J., Spataro, S. E., & Chatman, J. A.
(2006). Knowing your place: Self-perceptions of status in social groups.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 1094 –1110.
Aries, E. J., Gold, C., & Weigel, R. H. (1983). Dispositional and situational
influences on dominance behavior in small groups. Journal of Person-
ality and Social Psychology, 44, 779 –786.
Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. (1991). The Big Five personality dimen-
sions and job performance: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 44,
1–26.
Bass, B. M. (1981). Bass and Stogdill’s handbook of leadership. New
York: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group.
Bell, G. B., & French, R. L. (1950). Consistency of individual leadership
position in small groups of varying membership. Journal of Abnormal
and Social Psychology, 45, 764 –767.
Berger, J., Cohen, B. P., & Zelditch, M. (1972). Status characteristics and
social interaction. American Sociological Review, 37, 241–255.
Blau, P. M. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: Wiley.
Blau, P. M., & Scott, W. R. (1962). Formal organizations: A comparative
approach. San Francisco: Chandler.
Borkenau, P., Mauer, N., Riemann, R., Spinath, F. M., & Angleitner, A.
(2004). Thin slices of behavior as cues of personality and intelligence.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 599 – 614.
Buss, D. M. (1981). Sex differences in the evaluation and performance of
dominant acts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 147–
154.
Buss, D. M., & Craik, K. H. (1980). The frequency concept of disposition:
Dominance and prototypical dominant acts. Journal of Personality, 48,
379 –392.
Carli, L. L., LaFleur, S. J., & Loeber, C. C. (1995). Nonverbal behavior,
gender, and influence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68,
1030 –1041.
Cartwright, D. (1959). Introduction. In D. Cartwright (Ed.), Studies in
social power (pp. 150 –165). Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Re-
search.
DePaulo, B. M., & Friedman, H. S. (1998). Nonverbal communication. In
D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social
psychology, Vols. 1 and 2 (4th ed., pp. 3– 40). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Dodge, A. P. (1937). Relation of “social dominance” to general intelli-
gence. Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 387–390.
Donahue, D., & Sattler, J. M. (1971). Personality variables affecting WAIS
scores. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 36, 441.
Driskell, J. E., & Mullen, B. (1990). Status, expectations, and behavior: A
meta-analytic review and test of the theory. Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin, 16, 541–553.
Driskell, J. E., Olmstead, B., & Salas, E. (1993). Task cues, dominance
cues, and influence in task groups. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78,
51– 60.
Dunning, D., Meyerowitz, J. A., & Holzberg, A. D. (1989). Ambiguity and
self-evaluation: The role of idiosyncratic trait definitions in self-serving
assessments of ability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
57, 1082–1090.
Fiske, D. W., & Cox, J. A. (1960). The consistency of ratings by peers.
Journal of Applied Psychology, 44, 11–17.
Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Swann, W. B. (2003). A very brief
measure of the Big-Five personality domains. Journal of Research in
Personality, 37, 504 –528.
Gough, H. G. (1949). Factors relating to the academic achievement of
high-school students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 40, 65–78.
Gough, H. G. (1987). CPI manual (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting
Psychologists Press.
Gough, H. G., McClosky, H., & Meehl, P. E. (1951). A personality scale
for dominance. Journal of Social Psychology, 46, 360 –366.
Hall, J. A., Halberstadt, A. G., & O’Brien, C. E. (1997). “Subordination”
and nonverbal sensitivity: A study and synthesis of findings based on
trait measures. Sex Roles, 37, 295–317.
Hecht, L. W., & Schraeder, W. B. (1986, June). Technical report on test
development and score interpretation for GMAT users. Los Angeles:
Graduate Management Admissions.
Hogan, R., & Hogan, J. (1991). Personality and status. In D. G. Gilbert &
J. J. Connolly (Eds.), Personality, social skills, and psychopathology: An
individual differences approach (pp. 137–154). New York: Plenum
Press.
Hollander, E. P., & Julian, J. W. (1969). Contemporary trends in the
analysis of leadership processes. Psychological Bulletin, 71, 387–397.
Horowitz, L. M., Wilson, K. R., Turan, B., Zolotsev, P., Constantino, M. J.,
& Henderson, L. (2006). How interpersonal motives clarify the meaning
of interpersonal behavior: A revised circumplex model. Personality and
Social Psychological Review, 10, 67– 86.
Imada, A. S., & Hakel, M. D. (1977). Influence of nonverbal communi-
cation and rater proximity on impressions and decisions in simulated
employment interviews. Journal of Applied Psychology, 62, 295–300.
John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big Five trait taxonomy: History,
measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John
(Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (2nd ed., pp.
102–138). New York: Guilford Press.
Jost, J. T., & Banaji, M. R. (1994). The role of stereotyping in system-
justification and the production of false consciousness. British Journal of
Social Psychology, 33, 1–27.
Judge, T. A., Bono, J. E., Ilies, R., & Gerhardt, M. W. (2002). Personality
and leadership: A qualitative and quantitative review. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 87, 765–780.
Kalma, A. (1991). Hierarchisation and dominance assessment at first
glance. European Journal of Social Psychology, 21, 165–181.
Kalma, A. P., Visser, L., & Peeters, A. (1993). Sociable and aggressive
502 ANDERSON AND KILDUFF
dominance: Personality differences in leadership style? Leadership
Quarterly, 4, 45– 64.
Kenny, D. A. (1994). Interpersonal perception. New York: Guilford Press.
Kenny, D. A. (1995). SOREMO Version V.2: A FORTRAN program for the
analysis of round-robin data structures. Unpublished manuscript, Uni-
versity of Connecticut.
Kenny, D. A., Albright, L., Malloy, T. E., & Kashy, D. A. (1994).
Consensus in interpersonal perception: Acquaintance and the Big Five.
Psychological Bulletin, 116, 245–258.
Kenny, D. A., Kashy, D. A., & Cook, W. L. (2006). Dyadic data analysis.
New York: Guilford Press.
Kenny, D. A., & La Voie, L. (1984). The social relations model. In L.
Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 18,
pp. 142–182). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
Lashley, B. R., & Kenny, D. A. (1998). Power estimation in social relations
analyses. Psychological Methods, 3, 328 –338.
Lee, M. T., & Ofshe, R. (1981). The impact of behavioral style and status
characteristics on social influence: A test of two competing theories.
Social Psychology Quarterly, 44, 73– 82.
Leonardelli, G., & Tormala, Z. L. (2003). The negative impact of perceiv-
ing discrimination on collective well-being: The mediating role of per-
ceived ingroup status. European Journal of Social Psychology, 33,
507–514.
Lewin, K. (1951). Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical
papers. New York: Harpers.
Lord, R. G. (1985). An information processing approach to social percep-
tions, leadership and behavioral measurement in organizations. In L. L.
Cummings & B. M. Staw (Eds), Research in organizational behavior
(Vol. 7, pp. 87–128). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Lord, R. G., De Vader, C. L., & Alliger, G. M. (1986). A meta-analysis of
the relation between personality traits and leadership perceptions: An
application of validity generalization procedures. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 71, 402– 410.
Lord, R. G., Phillips, J. S., & Rush, M. C. (1980). Effects of sex and
personality on perceptions of emergent leadership, influence, and social
power. Journal of Applied Psychology, 65, 176 –182.
Mann, R. D. (1959). A review of the relationship between personality and
performance in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 56, 241–270.
Mazur, A. (1985). A biosocial model of status in face-to-face primate
groups. Social Forces, 64, 377– 402.
McCrae, R. R. (1987). Creativity, divergent thinking, and openness to
experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 1258 –
1265.
McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T., Jr. (1999). A five-factor theory of person-
ality. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality:
Theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 139 –153) New York: Guilford Press.
Megargee, E. I., Bogart, P., & Anderson, B. J. (1966). Prediction of
leadership in a simulated industrial task. Journal of Applied Psychology,
4, 292–295.
Mehrabian, A., & Williams, M. (1969). Nonverbal concomitants of per-
ceived and intended persuasiveness. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 13, 37–58.
Moskowitz, D. S. (1990). Convergence of self-reports and independent
observers: Dominance and friendliness. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 58, 1096 –1106.
Nelson, P. D., & Berry, N. H. (1965). The relationship between an
individual’s sociometric status in different groups over a two-year pe-
riod. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 60, 31–37.
Paulhus, D. L., & Morgan, K. L. (1997). Perceptions of intelligence in
leaderless groups: The dynamic effects of shyness and acquaintance.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 581–591.
Perrow, C. (1970). Departmental power and perspectives in industrial
firms. In M. N. Zald (Ed.), Power in organizations (pp. 59– 89). Nash-
ville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.
Reynolds, D. J., & Gifford, R. (2001). The sounds and sights of intelli-
gence: A lens model channel analysis. Personality and Social Psychol-
ogy Bulletin, 27, 187–200.
Ridgeway, C. L. (1987). Nonverbal behavior, dominance, and the basis of
status in task groups. American Sociological Review, 52, 683– 694.
Ridgeway, C. L., & Diekema, D. (1989). Dominance and collective hier-
archy formation in male and female task groups. American Sociological
Review, 54, 79 –93.
Riggio, R. E. (1986). Assessment of basic social skills. Journal of Per-
sonality and Social Psychology, 51, 649 – 660.
Rush, M. C., Phillips, J. S., & Lord, R. G. (1981). Effects of a temporal
delay in rating on leader behavior descriptions: A laboratory investiga-
tion. Journal of Applied Psychology, 66, 442– 450.
Schippmann, J. S., & Prien, E. P. (1989). An assessment of the contribu-
tions of general mental ability and personality characteristics to man-
agement success. Journal of Business and Psychology, 3, 423– 437.
Shaw, M. E. (1961). A serial position effect in social influence on group
decisions. Journal of Social Psychology, 54, 83–91.
Smith, J. A., & Foti, R. J. (1998). A pattern approach to the study of leader
emergence. Leadership Quarterly, 9, 147–160.
Snyder, R. A., & Sutker, L. W. (1977). The measurement of the construct
of dominance and its relationship to nonverbal behavior. Journal of
Psychology, 97, 227–230.
Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic intervals for indirect effects in structural
equations models. In S. Leinhart (Ed.), Sociological methodology (pp.
290 –312). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Thibaut, J. W., & Kelley, H. H. (1959). The social psychology of groups.
New York: Wiley.
Todorov, A., Mandisodza, A. N., Goren, A., & Hall, C. C. (2005, June 10).
Inferences of competence from faces predict election outcomes. Science,
308, 1623–1626.
Van Vugt, M. (2006). Evolutionary origins of leadership and followership.
Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 354 –371.
Wiggins, J. S. (1979). A psychological taxonomy of trait-descriptive terms:
The interpersonal domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychol-
ogy, 37, 395– 412.
Wiggins, J. S., Trapnell, P., & Phillips, N. (1988). Psychometric properties
and geometric characteristics of the Revised Interpersonal Adjective
Sales (IAS-R). Multivariate Behavioral Research, 23, 517–530.
Received August 15, 2007
Revision received September 23, 2008
Accepted September 23, 2008
503
TRAIT DOMINANCE AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE
... Based on the dominance-prestige model of status (Henrich and Gil-White, 2001), we attempt to explore the impact of different types of pride (authentic pride vs. hubristic pride) on their intentions to create different types of eWOM and the mediating role of social status pursuit strategies. The dominanceprestige model suggests that the pursuit of social status includes prestige strategies, which entails obtaining an increased social status by being recognized and respected due to personal skills or knowledge (Henrich and Gil-White, 2001), and dominance strategies, which entails obtaining an increased social status by possessing resources and controlling profits (Anderson and Kilduff, 2009). Previous research has demonstrated that authentic pride leads to prestige strategies and hubristic pride leads to dominance strategies Tracy et al., 2020). ...
... The dominance-prestige model suggests that the pursuit of social status includes dominance strategies, which are common in primates, and prestige strategies, which are unique to humans. Dominance entails obtaining an increased social status by possessing resources and controlling profits (Anderson and Kilduff, 2009). Such status is acquired and maintained through the use of power, fear, intimidation and coercion (de Waal-Andrews et al., 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) influences consumers' purchase decisions, but few studies have investigated the antecedents that lead consumers to create different types of eWOM. From the perspective of social interactions, this research explored how two subtypes of pride not only compel consumers to create eWOM but also differently impact four types of eWOM and their mechanisms. Study 1 manipulated the pride state and found that authentic pride promoted positive eWOM and constructive eWOM, while hubristic pride promoted negative eWOM and destructive eWOM. Study 2 examined the effect of pride on eWOM at the trait level and tested the mediating effect of their use of social status pursuit strategy. Overall, this study increases the understanding of different types of eWOM and broadens the literature of the effect of pride and social status pursuit strategy in the context of consumption.
... That is, low-status students were possibly unable to conceptualise their knowledge of hockey, because their high-status teammates were more concerned with the competitive agenda of SE (getting the task done or winning the tournament) instead of involving their teammates. Likewise, low-status students may have allowed their high-status teammates to control the team, because they were perceived as being more capable of leading the team to achieve their collective goals (Anderson and Kilduff, 2009). Research has shown knowledge differences for students of differing skill abilities (Alexander and Luckman, 2001), with our study showing that SS can also be associated with knowledge development. ...
Article
Full-text available
The limited amount of research on the influence of social status during group work in physical education has typically focused on interactions and power. What is less understood is whether social status has an impact on various physical education outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine physical activity, game performance, and knowledge outcomes of high- and low-status fifth-grade students during a physical education field hockey unit delivered utilising the Sport Education model. 44 students completed sociometric peer nomination surveys to determine the social status hierarchy of all students in the class. Students wore accelerometers to measure moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during the unit. Pre- and post-unit game performance and knowledge were assessed through the Team Sport Assessment Procedure and cognitive tests, respectively. Repeated measures analysis of variance showed no significant difference between high- and low-status students’ average MVPA over all phases of the unit (pre-season, season and post-season), while analysis of covariances revealed significant differences in game performance and field hockey knowledge based on social status. Results suggest while physical activity levels were similar between high- and low-status students, some lower-status students were at risk in terms of developing skills and knowledge.
... Second, the understanding of conformity behaviors across cultures and the diferences of conformity concerning positive and negative outcomes can be used in a way to strengthen the voice of individuals with high conformity tendencies and support their original preferences, opinions, or beliefs. Sometimes, only a few individuals-or even only one person-dominate a group decisionmaking process [52] (which may be driven by their personality traits [2,43] or status diferences [19,23]) and the conformity tendencies of others may even weaken their own voice. If these social phenomena are considered in the user models and the algorithmic approaches supporting group-decision making, the fnal outcome may support the opinions and preferences of a wider variety of people (compared to the dominating ones). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In group decision-making, we can frequently observe that an individual adapts their behavior or belief to fit in with the group’s majority opinion. This phenomenon has been widely observed to exist especially against an objectively correct answer—in face-to-face and online interaction alike. To a lesser extent, studies have investigated the conformity effect in settings based on personal opinions and feelings; thus, in settings where an objectively right or wrong answer does not exist. In such settings, the direction of conformity tends to play a role in whether an individual will conform. While cultural differences in conformity behavior have been observed repeatedly in settings with an objectively correct answer, the role of culture has not been explored yet for settings with subjective topics. Hence, the focus of this study is on how conformity develops across cultures for such cases. We developed an online experiment in which participants needed to reach a positive group consensus on adding a song to a music playlist. After seeing the group members’ ratings, the participants had the opportunity to revise their own. Our findings suggest that the willingness to flip to a positive outcome was far less than to a negative outcome. Overall, conformity behavior was far less pronounced for participants from the United Kingdom compared to participants from India.
... In our context, the status threatening effect of receiving task-related help is more salient when the help is from a more competent help giver because upward comparison highlights a negative self-image to the recipient. Furthermore, the combination of receiving help and upward comparison indicates the recipient's inferior position not only in the social relations between the two parties, but also in their influence within the team (Bowler & Brass, 2006;Anderson & Kilduff, 2009). Such double whammy of negative self-evaluations may amplify the help recipient's status threat perceptions. ...
Article
Full-text available
Social exchange theory suggests that after receiving help, people reciprocate by helping the original help giver. However, we propose that help recipients may respond negatively and harm the help giver when they perceive helping as a status threat and experience envy. Integrating the helping as status relations framework and the social functional perspective of envy, we examine when and why receiving help may prompt help recipients to undermine help givers. Across four studies, we find progressive support for our results which show that when individuals receive task-related help from help givers who are perceived to be more, rather than less, competent than them, they experience greater status threat and envy. As help recipients experience envy toward help givers, they are likely to undermine help givers, and this positive relationship becomes stronger for help recipients who have higher status striving motivation. Our findings underscore the status dynamics implicated in helping interactions by highlighting that help recipients, especially those with higher status striving motivation, may paradoxically undermine help givers when they perceive status threat from and feel envious of help givers, as a result of receiving help from more competent help givers.
Article
Full-text available
Two studies (total n = 1,245) explored the influence of (1) receiving public vs. private performance feedback, (2) competing on a team vs. solo, and (3) individual differences in team competition participation on cheating behavior. Participants were given opportunities to cheat in an online trivia competition and self-reported their cheating behavior. Meta-analyses of Studies 1 and 2 revealed that participants who believed their performance feedback would be public cheated more than those who believed their performance feedback would be private, and individuals who regularly participate in team competition cheated more than those who do not. We found no evidence that experimentally manipulating team competition (vs. solo competition) influenced cheating. Our findings suggest that people will put their moral reputations at risk in order to protect their competence reputations by engaging in unethical behavior that signals (false) competence to others.
Article
Dominant actors are neither liked nor respected, yet they are reliably deferred to. Extant explanations of why dominant actors are deferred to focus on deferrers' first-order judgments (i.e., the deferrers' own private assessment of the dominant actor). The present research extends these accounts by considering the role of second-order judgments (i.e., an individual's perception of what others think about the dominant actor) in decisions to defer to dominant actors. While individuals themselves often have little respect for dominant actors, we hypothesized that (1) they think others respect dominant actors more than they do themselves, and (2) these second-order respect judgments are associated with their decision to defer dominant actors above and beyond their own first-order respect judgments. The results of four studies provide support for these hypotheses: across a variety of contexts, we found evidence that individuals think others respect dominant actors more than they themselves do (Studies 1–3), and perceptions of others' respect for dominant actors is associated with individuals' own decisions to defer to them, above and beyond first-order respect (Studies 3–4). Results highlight the importance of considering second-order judgments in order to fully understand why dominant actors achieve high social rank in groups and organizations.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The characteristics of auditors represent the characteristics of persons engaged in audit work. Given that an auditor is a person who should provide independent and objective assurances that the business of the audited entity does not contain material misstatements, the auditor is expected to possess certain characteristics and to apply them in his daily work. The subject of the research in the paper is the research of the attitudes of the respondents in the Republic of Serbia about the characteristics that should be possessed by every person who is engaged in the planning and implementation of the audit engagement. The main conclusion of the paper is that respondents require auditors to possess positive and leaders characteristics, with respondents more likely to expect auditors engaged in public sector auditing to have a certain tendency to possess certain negative characteristics, including emphasized political affiliation in the first place.
Article
Full-text available
Can theories of power be used to explain differences in the linguistic styles of Donald Trump and Joe Biden? We argue that the two candidates possess and use different forms of power—and that this is associated with typical language patterns. Based on their personal history, news reports, and empirical studies, we expect that Trump’s approach to power is characterized by coercive power forms and Biden’s by collaborative power forms. Using several LIWC categories and the moral foundations dictionary, we analyzed over 500 speeches and 15,000 tweets made during the 2020 election battle. Biden’s speeches can be described as analytical and frequently relating to moral values, whereas Trump’s speeches were characterized by a positive emotional tone. In tweets, Biden used more social words and words related to virtue, honesty, and achievement than Trump did. Trump’s coercive power and Biden’s collaborative power were more observable in tweets than speeches, which may reflect the fact that tweets are more spontaneous than speeches.
Article
Reaching agreements in conflicts is an important developmental challenge. Here, German 5‐year‐olds (N = 284, 49% female, mostly White, mixed socioeconomic backgrounds; data collection: June 2016–November 2017) faced repeated face‐to‐face bargaining problems in which they chose between fair and unfair reward divisions. Across three studies, children mostly settled on fair divisions. However, dominant children tended to benefit more from bargaining outcomes (in Study 1 and 2 but not Study 3) and children mostly failed to use leverage to enforce fairness. Communication analyses revealed that children giving orders to their partner had a bargaining advantage and that children provided and responded to fairness reasons. These findings indicate that fairness concerns and dominance are both key factors that shape young children's bargaining decisions.
Article
Extraverts are often characterized as highly social individuals who are highly invested in their interpersonal interactions. We propose that extraverts' interaction partners hold a different view-that extraverts are highly social, but not highly invested. Across six studies (five preregistered; N = 2,456), we find that interaction partners consistently judge more extraverted individuals to be worse listeners than less extraverted individuals. Furthermore, interaction partners assume that extraversion is positively associated with a greater ability to modify one's self-presentation. This behavioral malleability (i.e., the "acting" component of self-monitoring) may account for the unfavorable lay belief that extraverts are not listening.
Article
One hundred and one college students were observed in small-group discussion situations to determine the degree to which a previously administered personality measure predicted overt verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Results indicated that within all-male and all-female groups, scores on a measure of dominance exhibited only modest power to predict the frequency of any single behavior but were highly correlated with the overall pattern of dominance-related behaviors displayed by the subjects. In addition, situational influence was indicated by the negligible personality-behavior correlations obtained for both men and women in the mixed-sex discussion groups.
Article
Test scores of divergent thinking obtained between 1959 and 1972 were correlated with a variety of personality measures administered since 1980. In this sample of 268 men, divergent thinking was consistently associated with self-reports and ratings of openness to experience, but not with neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, or conscientiousness. Both divergent thinking and openness were also modestly correlated with Gough's (1979)empirically derived Creative Personality Scale. Several other personality variables mentioned in the literature were also examined; those that were associated with divergent thinking were also generally correlated with openness. These data suggest that creativity is particularly related to the personality domain of openness to experience.
Article
Stratification and status attainment have been major research topics in sociology for years (cf. Weber, 1946). Because status differences typify every human (and primate) group (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1989) and because these differences profoundly affect our lives, it is important to inquire about their origins.