November 02, 2017

10:00-11:00 a.m.

Please note: This event is for invited researchers only.

In Pursuit of Prestige: Social Approval Concerns Cause Leaders to Vigilantly Monitor Social Cues

Talk description:
To foster group success, leaders sometimes must make unpopular decisions or provide their group members with critical feedback—actions that are not always well-received and can jeopardize the leader’s social approval among followers. Extending some of my prior work showing that prestige-oriented (but not dominance-oriented) leaders sometimes pander to their subordinates’ desires at the expense of group performance, I will be sharing some ongoing research in which I examine the social cognitive processes activated among leaders when faced with providing critical feedback to their subordinate group members. Two experiments from my dissertation (N=361) focused on situations in which leaders anticipated providing their subordinates with critical feedback publicly (vs. anonymously). Results indicate that, when anticipating providing criticism publicly (vs. anonymously), leaders’ prestige orientation (but not dominance orientation) was positively associated with social monitoring. Namely, those leaders displayed (1) heightened attention to emotional expressions—particularly to expressions of anger and fear and (2) a self-protective tendency to misidentify genuine smiles as being disingenuous, contrived to conceal the person’s true emotions. Findings illuminate some key, low-level processes that become activated in leaders in response to social threat.

Dr. Charleen Case is an Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. In her research, Charleen leverages theory from evolutionary biology and social psychology to address when, why, and how people’s deep-seated motivations cause them to behave in ways that either promote or undermine effective group functioning. She currently is examining how leaders navigate social dilemmas in which their own personal motivations – motivations for power, status, or even social affiliation – come into conflict with important group goals.

Charleen received her BA in Psychology and Anthropology from Miami University and her MS and PhD in Social Psychology from Florida State University. While completing her PhD, she also served as a visiting research fellow at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Research is the heart of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), and we want to make sure that we support each other in developing high quality research. To that end, we created the Adderley Positive Research Incubator for sharing and encouraging POS-related research ideas that are at various stages of development.

Learn more about the Adderley Positive Research Incubator here and direct questions about individual sessions to Amy Young at