The evolutionary psychology of leadership

  title={The evolutionary psychology of leadership},
  author={Mark van Vugt and Richard Ronay},
  journal={Organizational Psychology Review},
  pages={74 - 95}
Evolutionary leadership theory (ELT) argues that humans possess specialized psychological mechanisms for solving coordination problems through leadership and followership. We discuss the evolutionary functions and psychological processes underlying leadership, and how to study leadership and followership from an integrated evolutionary perspective. An evolutionary perspective offers novel insights into major barriers to leadership effectiveness in organizations. These obstacles include (a… Expand
From genes to minds to cultures: Evolutionary approaches to leadership
Abstract Evolutionary perspectives are part of any comprehensive explanation of leadership and, more generally, hierarchy formation in groups. This editorial describes contributions to a specialExpand
Evolutionary psychology: theoretical foundations for the study of organizations
This article provides an introduction to evolutionary psychology and its relevance to organizational design theory and practice. Evolutionary psychology assumes that human nature reflect adaptationsExpand
Evolutionary Perspectives on Leadership, Emotion and Organizational Change
Successful organizational change is often the result of good leadership. However, consensus on what good leadership means is scarcely discernible in the field. There remain several schools of thoughtExpand
Leadership: Past, Present, and Future: An Evolution of an Idea
Defining a leader and the qualities that demonstrate leadership have evolved over the past centuries.  Researchers have explored leadership traits using various methodologies since the concept of theExpand
Charisma as signal: An evolutionary perspective on charismatic leadership
We present an evolutionary perspective on charismatic leadership, arguing that charisma has evolved as a credible signal of a person's ability to solve a coordination challenge requiring urgentExpand
What explains cultural differences in leadership styles? On the agricultural origins of participative and directive leadership
Abstract Why do we observe either participative or directive leadership in organizations? I test an evolutionary-informed theory suggesting that organizational leadership is currently lessExpand
Leadership in Mammalian Societies: Emergence, Distribution, Power, and Payoff.
It is found that human leadership exhibits commonalities with and differences from the broader mammalian pattern, raising interesting theoretical and empirical issues. Expand
The evolutionary anthropology of political leadership
Abstract Existing approaches within leadership studies often share a bias towards industrialized societies and lack broader cross-cultural and ethological reference. Meanwhile, cross-cultural andExpand
Leadership in small-scale societies: Some implications for theory, research, and practice
Abstract Leadership studies concentrate on large-scale societies and organizations with formal hierarchies, large power differences, and diverse membership. Much less is known about leadership inExpand
Observing leadership as behavior in teams and herds – An ethological approach to shared leadership research
Abstract Both Shared Leadership Theory and evolutionary theories of leadership emphasize the role of team-level patterns of influence on team or group success. Yet, most of the empirical work on theExpand


Evolutionary Origins of Leadership and Followership
Drawing upon evolutionary logic, leadership is reconceptualized in terms of the outcome of strategic interactions among individuals who are following different, yet complementary, decision rules toExpand
Evolutionary Origins of Leadership and Followership
  • M. van Vugt
  • Medicine
  • Personality and social psychology review : an official journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc
  • 2006
This article uses the vast psychological literature on leadership as a database to test several evolutionary hypotheses about the origins of leadership and followership in humans, and finds no link between leadership and dominance. Expand
Evolution and the Social Psychology of Leadership: The Mismatch Hypothesis
An evolutionary perspective on leadership assumes that leadership consists of a constellation of adaptations for solving different coordination problems in human ancestral environments, most notablyExpand
Leadership, followership, and evolution: some lessons from the past.
This article analyzes the topic of leadership from an evolutionary perspective and proposes three conclusions that are not part of mainstream theory that might explain the alienation and frustration of many citizens and employees. Expand
The Origins and Evolution of Leadership
Identifying the origins of human leadership and followership, as well as which aspects are shared with other animals and which are unique, offers ways of understanding, predicting, and improving leadership today. Expand
Evolutionary Psychology, Organizational Culture, and the Family Firm
Executive Overview The paper aims to show how evolutionary psychology can provide a fresh, compelling, and overarching explanatory framework for contrasting evidence about the special capabilitiesExpand
Darwinism, behavioral genetics, and organizational behavior: A review and agenda for future research.
In this article, a case is made for the importance of evolutionary processes and behavioral genetics for organizational behavior. First, we present scientific arguments connecting evolutionaryExpand
Selfish or servant leadership? Evolutionary predictions on leadership personalities in coordination games
We study the personalities of emergent leaders in two coordination games in groups of four players each with monetary incentives. Our results support the evolutionary hypothesis that leadership is aExpand
Caveman Politics: Evolutionary Leadership Preferences and Physical Stature†
Objective Following evolutionary psychology, we argue that physical stature matters in preferences regarding political leadership. Particularly, a preference for physically formidable leadersExpand
What we know about Leadership
This article reviews the empirical literature on personality, leadership, and organizational effectiveness to make 3 major points. First, leadership is a real and vastly consequential phenomenon,Expand