Connson Locke (London School of Economics and Political Science) and Cameron Anderson (University of California, Berkley) wondered how people who appear to be highly confident affect the behavior of others, specifically in decision-making. Does a person who appears to be highly confident “cause others to participate less, or to suppress their own ideas and opinions’ (p. 42). Studies have suggested that people who appear to be highly confident are more likely to be seen as competent -- people who know their stuff --regardless of whether this is true.
In a series of three different experimental studies Locke and Anderson examined this subject, the details of which will not be discussed here. What did they find?
- On decision-making tasks, participants viewed the highly confident person as more competent and participated less.
- Even when the highly confident person had incorrect opinions, participants deferred.
- When highly confident people sought others’ ideas, the participants were more likely to participate, off-setting the effect of perceived competence.
1. We often do see people as leaders, or potential leaders, who carry themselves well, speak with confidence, and look at us while talking. We also tend to select and promote these people into positions of power and leadership. Not all perhaps, but many. If we think honestly about it, we may find we have a stereotype of the leader, and it is a stereotype that many others also may have. What are the implications for those of us who do not fit the stereotype?
2. For the leaders amongst us who appear confident to others, there is an important point here. Recognize you may be perceived as more competent or smarter than you are. You may intimidate others simply by being yourself and suppress participative decision-making. The solution: Genuinely seek others’ opinions and ideas, admitting you do not have all the answers. That is being a leader.
Locke, C. C., & Anderson, C. (2015). The downside of looking like a leader: Power, nonverbal confidence, and participative decision-making. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 58, 42-47.
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