Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Why Do Leaders Express Humility and How Does This Matter: A Rational Choice Perspective

Why Do Leaders Express Humility and How Does This Matter: A Rational Choice Perspective. JianChun Yang, Wei Zhang and Xiao Chen. Front. Psychol., August 21 2019. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01925

Abstract: The utility of leader humility expressing behavior has been examined by several studies across multiple levels. However, our knowledge about why leaders express humility continues to be sparse. Drawing on rational choice theory, this paper proposes a model examining whether followers’ capability triggers leader’s humility expressing behavior and how followers’ interpretations of it influence its effectiveness. Results from 278 leader-follower dyads from a time-lagged research design showed that followers’ capability as perceived by the leader is positively related to leader-expressed humility and, in turn, this behavior would conditionally enhance follower trust, that is, followers will trust the humble leader less when they attribute leader’s expressed humility more to serving impression management motives. Several theoretical and practical implications of this observation are discussed in this study.


The present study has investigated why leaders often express humility and how this matters to followers based on rational choice theory. We have found that when the leader perceives that his/her followers possess capabilities of a high order, the leader would be more likely to express humility. We have also found that leader humility could promote trusting relationships among the followers toward the leader. Finally, we have presented the total process underpinning dyadic level leader-follower interactions. By making their abilities more visible to their leader, followers can enhance leader-expressed humility, and, in turn, through leaders’ humility expressions, followers can develop greater trust in their leaders. This interaction hinges on followers’ positive inferences about the motives behind the leader’s expressions of humility, that is, when followers interpret leader humility as serving impression management motives, it is less likely that such leader behavior will increase follower trust.
However, as for inferring leader humility, with regard to performance enhancement motives in the relationship between leader humility and follower trust, we did not find a moderation role of inferred leader humility motives. Initially, we thought that this result was beyond expectation, but reasonable. Drawing from rational choice theory (Lewicki et al., 2006), we found that the attribution of behavior motives is more to do with identifying a mismatch between behavior and intention. Such a matching process will help individuals avoid trusting the wrong person (Elangovan et al., 2007). However, the actual source of increase or decrease of trust is usually more related to the characteristics of the trustees (Mayer et al., 1995). Thus, compared to leaders’ humility characteristics, followers’ attribution of leader humility motives may have less impact on followers’ trust building toward the leader. Additionally, individuals are more sensitive about negative information and events (“negative bias”, Rozin and Royzman, 2001), which may serve as an explanation for the untested hypothesis. We strongly suggest future research to dig further into this issue.

Theoretical Implications

The present research has contributed to leadership and leader humility literature in several ways. Firstly, our study is the first to examine situational predictors of leader humility. By treating humility expression targets as possible antecedents of leader humility, the present study has provided a novel understanding of why leaders express humility. Most previous studies on leader humility have focused on its positive outcomes (Owens et al., 2013Ou et al., 2014b2017Owens and Hekman, 2016); few examined the antecedents of leader humility. Moreover, the few research scholars who had evaluated individual differences such as personal traits or life experience as the antecedents of humility, have treated humble leadership as a trait-relevant leadership style (Morris et al., 2005Owens, 2009). Although many scholars have proposed that contextual factors such as safe climate could trigger greater leader-expressed humility (Owens, 2009), empirical research examining the situational predictors of leader humility is scarce. Drawing from rational choice theory, this research has found that follower capability would trigger leaders to express humility. Thus, this research has been able to explain leaders’ expressions of humility.
Secondly, our study has contributed to leadership literature by emphasizing the follower-centric view which values followers as a critical factor that could shape leaders’ behavior and influence effectiveness of leadership. Our review of the leadership literature has noted that most previous leadership studies had endorsed the leader-centric view (i.e., followers are only considered as recipients or moderators of leadership) while ignoring the follower-centric view (i.e., followers can be seen as “constructors” of leadership) (Howell and Shamir, 2005Uhl-Bien et al., 2014). The present study is the first to empirically test the followers’ role in affecting the processes underlying humble leadership. Firstly, followers play an important role in shaping expressions of humility on the part of the leader; specifically, followers could have the power to trigger more leader humility when their abilities become salient to their leaders. Secondly, followers’ interpretations play a key role in affecting the outcomes of humble leadership. Like many other studies related to positive leadership, e.g., transformational leadership (Dasborough and Ashkanasy, 2002), positive outcomes could not be guaranteed if followers interpret leaders’ behavior as being distorted in some way. Similarly, we found that leader humility cannot lead to greater follower trust if it gets interpreted as serving impression management motives.
Thirdly, the present study has furthered the understanding of leader humility by integrating rational choice theory and leadership theory. Just as the Confucian proverb says “haughtiness invites loss while humility brings benefits,” humility has been credited with bringing intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits (Cai et al., 2010). Consistent with rational choice theory, the present research has found that leaders’ perception of followers’ capabilities positively influences the leader’s humility expressing behavior since the leader can benefit more by being humble with capable followers. This is in consonance with the opinion that leaders would exhibit more positive behaviors to outstandingly good followers (Uhl-Bien et al., 2014). Furthermore, we have proposed and found that followers’ rational attribution about leader humility would influence the relationship between leader humility and follower trust. Therefore, by integrating rational choice theory with the construct of leader humility, we have been able to obtain a deeper understanding of the interaction between humble leaders and their followers.

Practical Implications

For managerial practice, we hope both leaders and followers would pick up some insights during the daily workplace interactions. For followers, they should realize the malleability of leader-expressed humility. This might provide two pieces of advice for promoting better interactions between followers and leaders. Firstly, followers should realize that they have a role in stimulating positive behavior on the part of the leader. By actively performing better at their respective jobs, followers could be appreciated by others at the workplace (including leaders). They should also realize that leaders exhibit certain behaviors based on some instrumental calculation, suggesting that followers should seek to inform themselves more assiduously before arriving at a final evaluation of their leader (Tepper et al., 2011).
As for leaders, although they may expect positive outcomes when they constantly express humility toward their followers, they should reflect upon the sincerity of their own humility expressions, in case the outcomes fail to meet expectations. Leaders should be aware of the importance of being more in service of the followers and the group rather than about themselves. However, if leaders constantly put up an act but in reality look after their own interests, their true intentions behind their behaviors would soon become apparent to their followers and, in time, erode existing trust. By sending feelers that their intentions and behavior have been consistent (Simons, 2002), leaders can protect themselves from being perceived as hypocritical.
What is also worth noting is that one limitation of this study is that we reported small effect sizes of follower competence on leader humility expression, which raises the question of whether these effects have meaningful implications for practice in management. The answer to this question is “yes.” Firstly, our small effect sizes are comparable to some previous studies of leader humility (Qian et al., 2018). Secondly, despite the small sizes, we obtain such effects after ruling out the influence of leaders’ humility trait. These results are practically meaningful because it indicates that we can cultivate humble leadership (e.g., humility-expressing behavior) through shaping the situational factors. Different from previous studies that only valued individual differences as antecedents of leader humility, our study indicates that organizations can create a better environment to trigger positive humble leader behaviors rather than cultivating humble leadership largely depending on the selection of leaders (e.g., selecting leaders with a high level of humility).

Limitations and Future Research

Firstly, although we utilized matching data analysis and multi-wave data collection as a method to verify our hypotheses, the sampling data could not offer causal inferences about our hypotheses. We recommend a longitudinal study to evaluate the actual causal relationship. Secondly, our study was conducted in China, where acting humbly is among the cultural norms and so individuals are suggested not to show off (Hwang, 1982; Kurman and Sriram, 1997). It is possible that people in such situations might be acting humbly against one’s true will and feelings. Further, the Chinese might be having varying interpretations of others’ humility. It is therefore not clear to what extent our results can be generalized or if our findings can be applicable to the Western context. We advocate further research to explore whether and how cultural differences influence the model proposed in this research—for example, whether a leader with higher dependent self-construal who values more harmonious interpersonal relationship will express more humble behaviors. Thirdly, the present study has left a hypothesis implicit in multiple empirical studies, namely, followers with higher capability would be perceived as having high utility by leaders. However, as many researchers have argued, there could be the possibility that when followers have high capability, leaders would sense both utility and be personally threatened at the same time (Khan et al., 2018). Finally, we acknowledge that rational consideration is one possible angle to understand the situational predictors of leaders’ humility expression. Beyond that, we think leaders’ less rational emotional perception can also be situational predictors of leader humility. These limitations also point to possible future directions for humble leadership studies.

Repetition increases belief in false statements; this illusory truth effect occurs with many different types of statements & prior knowledge does not protect against the illusory truth effect

Fazio, L. K. (2020). Repetition Increases Perceived Truth Even for Known Falsehoods. Collabra: Psychology, 6(1), 38. Jul 2020. http://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.347

Abstract: Repetition increases belief in false statements. This illusory truth effect occurs with many different types of statements (e.g., trivia facts, news headlines, advertisements), and even occurs when the false statement contradicts participants’ prior knowledge. However, existing studies of the effect of prior knowledge on the illusory truth effect share a common flaw; they measure participants’ knowledge after the experimental manipulation and thus conditionalize responses on posttreatment variables. In the current study, we measure prior knowledge prior to the experimental manipulation and thus provide a cleaner measurement of the causal effect of repetition on belief. We again find that prior knowledge does not protect against the illusory truth effect. Repeated false statements were given higher truth ratings than novel statements, even when they contradicted participants’ prior knowledge.

Keywords: illusory truth , truth judgments , knowledge , truth , misinformation

Conservatives perceive greater ingroup similarity than do liberals, & overestimate ingroup similarity; liberals possess more actual ingroup similarity than do conservatives on a national level

Ideological differences in attitude and belief similarity: distinguishing perception and reality. Chadly Stern. European Review of Social Psychology , Volume 31, 2020 - Issue 1, Pages 319-349, Jul 27 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/10463283.2020.1798059

ABSTRACT: Attitude and belief similarity have long stood as topics of inquiry for social psychology. Recent research suggests that there might be meaningful differences across people in the extent to which they perceive and actually share others’ attitudes and beliefs. I outline research examining the relationship between political ideology and the perception and reality of attitude similarity. Specifically, I review research documenting that (a) conservatives perceive greater ingroup similarity than do liberals, (b) conservatives overestimate and liberals underestimate ingroup similarity, (c) liberals and conservatives both underestimate similarity to outgroup members, and (d) liberals possess more actual ingroup similarity than do conservatives on a national level. Collectively, this review contributes to understanding how political ideology relates to (perceived) attitude similarity.

KEYWORDS: Political ideology, perceived similarity, actual similarity

This would suggest that people with strong Aesthetic Motivation would be unhappy and unproductive in many jobs, even some artistic jobs

Demographic, Personality Trait and Personality Disorder Correlates of Aesthetic Motivation. Adrian Furnham. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, July 28, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0276236620942917

Abstract: This study looked at personality and sub-clinical personality disorder correlates of self-rated motives for aesthetic motivation (AM). Two groups, totalling over 4000 adult British managers, completed three tests including a personality trait measure (HPI); a personality disorders measure (HDS), and a measure of their Motives and Values (MVPI) for Aestheticism and Culture. The two different groups had similar results, showing that for personality traits Inquisitiveness (Openness-to-Experience) and Sociability (Extraversion) were positively, and Adjustment (low Neuroticism) and Prudence (Conscientiousness) were negatively, related to AM. For personality disorder traits Imaginativeness (Schizotypy) and Colourful (Histrionic) were positively correlated with AM. Factor analysis confirmed the higher order classification of both traits and disorders. Regressions at the higher factor level suggested personality traits were more related to AM than disorder traits. Implications for the selection and management of aesthetic people are considered. Limitations and future directions are also noted.

Keywords: aestheticism, personality traits, personality disorders, Schizotypy

This would suggest that people with strong Aesthetic Motivation would be unhappy and unproductive in many jobs, even some artistic jobs.