Uncertainty-Evoking Leader Rhetoric and Support for Unexpected Leaders

  • Author / Creator
    Kincaid, Kathryn
  • Group members prefer leaders who are prototypical of their group and adopt a democratic (vs. autocratic) leadership style (Hogg & van Knippenberg, 2003; Lippitt and White, 1943). However, feelings of uncertainty can weaken these preferences and increase support for non-prototypical and autocratic leaders, who are typically seen as undesirable (Rast et al., 2013; 2015). Astute non-prototypical or autocratic leaders may intentionally evoke feelings of uncertainty among group members to elevate support for themselves. The current research examines uncertainty-evoking leader rhetoric and its effects on relative support for autocratic and non-prototypical leaders. In two experiments, participants (N = 138; N = 115) evaluated a prospective leader where I manipulated this leader’s rhetoric (high versus low uncertainty) and the leader's prototypicality (Study 1) or leadership style (Study 2). Results indicated that among group members who were not strongly identified with their group, prototypical leaders were evaluated more favorably than non-prototypical leaders when they did not evoke uncertainty. However, this advantage disappeared when they used high uncertainty evoking rhetoric (Study 1). Furthermore, we found a persistent preference for non-autocratic leaders, regardless of leader rhetoric used (Study 2). These results suggest that using rhetoric to evoke feelings of uncertainty may be an effective strategy for non-prototypical leaders to garner support, but this advantage may not extend to autocratic leaders.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Library with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.