Monday, August 20, 2012


Behind the $2,000 suit, that corporate eminence may feel like he's to blame for everything.

A tendency to feel guilt marks one as a leader, a study suggests, because it shows "a sense of responsibility for the welfare and socioeconomic needs of others." First, nearly 250 people examined the responses of others to potentially guilt-inducing scenarios (responses that were concocted by researchers). For example, how would they feel if they accidentally ran over an animal? (click below to read more)

People with high "guilt proneness" said they intensely regretted that they hadn't been driving more safely. Study participants rated the (fictional) people who had expressed high levels of guilt as better potential leaders than the others.

Then, in an exploration of real-world leadership, people took personality tests, including tests of a proclivity for guilt. Then they took part in group exercises—specifically, team-based planning about how to survive a plane crash that left them marooned in a desert. People who had scored high on guilt-proneness were rated by their peers as having played a greater role in the group's deliberations.

"Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears the Crown," Rebecca L. Schaumberg and Francis J. Flynn, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (forthcoming)

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