A special gift we bestow on you for being representative of us: Considering leader
van Knippenberg, D.
van Knippenberg, B.M.
Two experiments tested hypotheses, derived from social identity and self-categorization theories, regarding the attribution of charisma to leaders. In Experiment I (N = 203), in-group prototypical leaders were attributed greater levels of charisma and were perceived to be more persuasive than in-group non-prototypical leaders. In Experiment 2 (N = 220), leaders described with in-group stereotypical characteristics were attributed relatively high levels of charisma regardless of their group-oriented versus exchange rhetoric. Leaders described with out-group stereotypical characteristics, however, had to employ group-oriented rhetoric to be attributed relatively high levels of charisma. We conclude that leadership emerges from being representative of 'us'; charisma may, indeed, be a special gift, but it is one bestowed on group members by group members for being representative of, rather than distinct from, the group itself. © 2006 The British Psychological Society.