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Durham e-Theses
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Biases in Leadership Perception: The Role of Implicit
Leadership Theories, Attachment Style, Attentional
Capacity, and Accuracy Motivation

FOX, LENA,FRANZISKA (2018) Biases in Leadership Perception: The Role of Implicit
Leadership Theories, Attachment Style, Attentional
Capacity, and Accuracy Motivation.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Previous work suggested that followers’ insecure attachment style might bias the
accuracy of follower leadership ratings (Davidovitz, Mikulincer, Shaver, Izsak, & Popper,
2007; Hansbrough, 2012), possibly also via followers’ implicit leadership theories (ILTs;
Berson, Dan, & Yammarino, 2006; Keller, 2003). We argue that both followers’ attachment
anxiety and avoidance—due to non-constructive emotion regulation and hence limited
attentional capacity—lead to a biased leadership perception due to a greater usage of ILTs
when rating a leader. In three online studies with full-time employed participants from the
US and UK, we assessed both followers’ ILTs and leadership ratings together with their
attachment style. Using an experimental design, Study 1 (N = 218) had participants rate a
fictitious leader presented in a written vignette. In Study 2 (N = 217), participants rated their
own supervisor. In Study 3 (N = 260), participants were asked to watch a video of a team
meeting before rating the leader. Results indicated that the higher participants’ attachment
avoidance, the more they relied on their ILTs when rating a leader. Study 3 found support
suggesting that this was due to a decrease of attentional capacity. However, when under
high working memory demands, the higher attachment avoidance, the less they relied on
their ILTs, probably due to a breakdown of their defense-mechanism of blocking out
information related to social perception (Edelstein & Gillath, 2008; Mikulincer, Dolev, &
Shaver, 2004). Perceptual biases related to attachment anxiety were inconsistent. Results
from Study 3 suggest that this might have been due to the interplay of a lack of attentional
capacity and heightened accuracy motivation for participants high in attachment anxiety.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:accuracy motivation; attachment style; attentional capacity; emotion regulation; leadership perception; implicit leadership theories
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Economics, Finance and Business, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 Apr 2018 14:55

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