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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Professor Richard Crisp

Leicht, Carola, Crisp, Richard J. & de Moura, Georgina Randsley (2013). Need for Structure Predicts Leadership Preference. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice 17(1): 53-66.

Author(s) from Durham


Prototypicality is an important factor for judgments and evaluations of group members and leadership selection. We tested whether these prototypicality perceptions vary as a function of individual differences in cognitive processing preferences. Participants' need for a structured, stable environment was measured before we independently manipulated the group prototypicality of a leadership candidate. Results revealed that participants' preference for prototypical leaders, and dislike for nonprototypical leaders, was accentuated for those who preferred structured, stable environments. Participants tolerant of less cognitive structure did not show this bias for prototypical leaders and against nonprototypical leaders. These findings suggest that individual differences in cognitive processing tendencies may moderate how group prototypicality is perceived and used, and can consequently affect the type of leaders people prefer.