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