Van Vugt, M., & Smith, J. E. (2019). A Dual Model of Leadership and Hierarchy: Evolutionary Synthesis. Trends in cognitive sciences




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From the popularity of authoritarian political leaders to the under-representation of women in

boardrooms, leadership is an important theme in current human social affairs. Leadership is

also a prominent research topic in the biological, social, and cognitive sciences. However, these

active literatures have evolved somewhat independently and there is a need for synthesis.

A comparative-evolutionary approach can integrate seemingly divergent perspectives by making

a distinction between two leadership styles, prestige and dominance, that have contrasting

expressions, functions, histories, and neural and developmental pathways. The distinction may

help to resolve various scientific puzzles, such as: (i) opposing views on the different functions

and expressions of leadership; (ii) the appeal of dominance-style leaders; and (iii) sex biases in

leadership emergence in modern society.

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