Professor in Evolutionary Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology


Leadership and status

Leadership in social dilemmas (2002)

Van Vugt, M., & De Cremer, D. (2002). Leadership in social dilemmas:  Comparing the instrumental and relational perspectives.  In: M. Hewstone & W. Stroebe (Eds.), European Review of Social Psychology, Vol. 13 (pp. 155-184). Philadelphia:  Psychology Press



This chapter examines the role of leadership in overcoming social dilemmas within groups.  First, based on prior theorising and research we present two alternative perspectives on leader endorsement in social dilemmas, an instrumental and relational perspective.  Next, we systematically compare these perspectives in a series of experiments investigating leadership in social dilemmas created within small groups in the laboratory.  The results of our studies suggest that when their personal identity is salient group members more strongly endorse leaders who are perceived to be instrumental in solving the free-rider problem.  In contrast, when a social identity is salient members more strongly endorse leaders who fulfil their relational needs.  Based on these findings we propose a differential needs model of leader endorsement in social dilemmas. 


Copyright © 2012– Mark van Vugt