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Understanding leader representations: Beyond implicit leadership theory
Knee, Robert Everett
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The purpose of the present study was to establish evidence for the suggested integration of the theories of connectionism and leadership. Recent theoretical writings in the field of leadership have suggested that the dynamic representations generated by the connectionist perspective is an appropriate approach to understanding how we perceive leaders. Similarly, implicit leadership theory (ILT) explains that our cognitive understandings of leaders are based on a cognitive structure that we use as a means of understanding and categorizing the behaviors of individuals we believe to be leaders. It was predicted that when asked to select a leader from a group of potential leaders, individuals select the leader based on personal belief alignment when the context of the leader selection is personally relevant, or based on cognitive expectations when the context is low in personal relevance. In addition, when experiencing moments of greater personal relevance, individuals will experience a more dynamic cognitive representation of a leader that those experiencing the moment as less personally relevant. Sixty-seven individuals provided usable data from a repeated measures design that asked participants to record their cognitive representations of a leader, participate in a leader selection task, and provide information about their cognitive representations of a leader after the selection task. The results of the study provide support the expectations of the experimenter and the suggestions of the connectionist perspective.
- Masters Theses