Masters Thesis

Does Another's Injury Affect Your Perception of their Formidability and Leadership?

Humans assess formidability though a variety of cues including weaponry, group size, and incapacitation (Fessler, Holbrook, Snyder, 2012; Fessler & Holbrook, 2013a, Fessler & Holbrook, 2013b). These studies argue that formidability is heuristically represented in a potential foes size, height, weight, and muscularity. Meaning, the more formidable a possible antagonist is the larger he/she appears. Formidability has also shown a relationship to ratings of leadership. In the present study, I tested the following hypotheses: formidability and leadership are negatively affected by the presence of a physical injury, the effect of being injured/uninjured on leadership ability is mediated by formidability, and risk propensity moderates the effect of being injured/uninjured on formidability. Participants (246 men and 292 women) were recruited for an online survey in which they were asked to make judgments about either injured individuals (e.g., on crutches, wearing knee braces, wearing a neck brace) or uninjured individuals. Participants made estimates about the target stimulus’s formidability, leadership qualities, and risk propensity. the present study found that participants rated uninjured men as more formidable better leaders. Risk propensity did not act as a moderator between being injured/uninjured and formidability. However, formidability did serve as a mediator for the effect of condition type (injured/uninjured) on leadership ability.


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