We argue that the sources of charisma are innate and can be explained as part of unique human cultural transmission mechanisms. Recently, developmental models and experiments have been presented, for example, natural pedagogy theory (Csibra & Gergely, 2006, 2009, 2011) and over-imitation studies (Lyons, Young, & Keil, 2007; McGuigan, 2013). Inspired by these, we maintain that certain universal principles of conspicuous influence are embraced with very little critical thinking, on the basis of certain signals the charismatic leader radiates in a particular communicative manner (“evolutionary syntax”). We point out expressions of these principles in charismatic leadership and propose a conceptual framework that can advance the formulation of a general theory on charisma anchored in evolutionary processes.
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