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Perception / Attribution

In: Business and Management

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Article 1 - Perception/Attribution: Narcissists Look Like Good Leaders. But Are They? (Jones, 2011)
In this article, the author discusses a study done on "narcissistic" leaders within small groups. A selection process (for a job candidate) was carried out in groups of 3, and one of the 3 members is selected as the leader. At the end of the selection process, the narcissistic tendencies of the leader are evaluated, to see how much it affects the results.
Strangely enough, it was discovered that the leaders who were the most narcissistic were the ones voted most successful by their teammates. Not only that, but it was noted that the ones with the most narcissistic leaders made the worst decisions (with regards to the groups' selection task).
I believe that this experiment reinforces the fact that people's perceptions of other people are very powerful. If a person can project a very confident image (as is often the case with narcissists), people will attribute many other qualities to them as well, even though the person themselves does not possess these qualities. In this case, we could say the "halo effect" is in play here - "our evaluation of others is dominated by only one of their traits" (Osland et al, 2009, p. 224). In this case - their own self-belief/self-confidence causes team members to bestow them with all the other qualities that a good leader possesses. Another perceptual distortion that could also be in effect here is that of the perceptual defense (Osland et al, 2009, p. 225) - namely "defenses acting as a screen or filter, blocking out that which we do not want to see and letting through that which we wish to see". In this case, again, the narcissistic leader's self-confidence blinded the team members to his or her other flaws.
I thought this article interesting, yet another illustration of the adage "Clothes make the man" -...

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