Divide and Conquer: Effects of Highlighting Sub-Group Divisions on Leader Support from the Majority

  • Author / Creator
    Ma, Angela
  • All groups have prototypes, “fuzzy sets” of attributes that define the group’s identity. These
    prototypes are dynamic, creating opportunities for leaders to promote versions of the group
    prototype that fit their vision for this group’s future. Previous studies have suggested leaders can
    use rhetoric to manipulate the boundaries of their groups, expanding the group to include more
    people, or attempting to create new categorizations altogether. However, these studies have been
    qualitative in nature, drawing their conclusions through analyzing historical documents and
    transcripts from large observational studies. The current study empirically tested the effects of
    exclusionary and inclusionary leader rhetoric on perceptions of the leader as well as perceptions
    of the group. Participants were 110 Albertan university students. They read arguments by a
    student leader suggesting that non-Albertan students either did or did not share the values of
    Albertan students. The student leader’s rhetoric (exclusionary or inclusionary) and their
    prototypicality (high or low) was manipulated. Results show that using exclusionary rhetoric led
    to decreased support for both prototypical and non-prototypical leaders. Participants who
    strongly identified with being Albertan showed greater support for excluding non-Albertans
    when they were exposed to a prototypical leader who used exclusionary rhetoric. From these
    findings we conclude that while the use of exclusionary rhetoric may not always be an effective
    tool for leaders seeking to gain more support from majority subgroup members, exposure to this
    rhetoric may still cause highly-identified majority subgroup members to become more amenable
    to policies that exclude minority subgroup members from positions of authority within the group.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries 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.