The face of leadership: Perceiving leaders from facial expression

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The face of leadership: Perceiving leaders from facial expression
The Leadership Quarterly

The aim of the two studies presented here was to add to our knowledge about the contribution of facial expression to the perception of leadership. We assessed participants' prototypes of leadership. In addition participants were shown pictures of different facial expressions. First impressions of leadership from the facial expressions were compared to the participants' prototypes. The results indicate that the participants used all available information including facial appearance expression context of communication appropriateness and authenticity of expression to form complex prototypes. When the facial expressions in the studies matched the participants' prototypes first impressions of leadership were higher. Therefore understanding what is inside the perceiver's mind is significant for understanding leadership perceptions. On the basis of these two studies we recommend that leaders should be aware of the influence their facial expressions have on their followers' perception of their leaderlikeness.

The Leadership Quarterly Volume 23, Issue 3, June 2012, Pages 545–566

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