Fr-SYM-1266-4 - You Are What I Say You Are: Leader Transference And Attachment Theory

Emerging themes in I/O psychology
1 hour
Emerging themes in I/O psychology
You are what I say you are: Leader transference and attachment theory
D. Gruda 1,*
1EM LYON Business School, Lyon, France
Main Abstract Content:

In this paper we assess to what degree individuals differ in their perception of leaders, based on the formation of self derived from earlier socialization experiences with significant others (Brumbaugh & Fraley, 2007; Mikulincer & Horesh, 1999), using attachment theory. Attachment can help examine the leader transference process in greater detail, since individuals with different attachment orientations have various views of self and others.
At T1 200 participants complete individual differences scales and are given a trait rating task. Participants are instructed to think of their current supervisor and rank the 10 most definitive traits, randomly and evenly chosen from a collection of previously rated 200 traits (Jarymowicz, 1992), of their supervisor. Participants further rank their own actual self-traits and unwanted self-traits. At T2 participants completed a few follow-up scales such as trait anxiety.
Findings indicate that there is a negative relationship (b = -.71, p<.01) between avoidant attachment and actual-self-leader similarity, i.e. avoidant attached individuals do not project their actual-self traits onto their supervisors.
Since this study was an online experimental task using panel data, subsequent studies are needed to confirm and enhance the interpretation of the presented results.
Research/Practical Implications
We show that attachment helps explain leader perception and that leader perception is fundamentally different than the perception of others in general. We advocate using attachment styles as a predictor of leader perception alongside personality measures.
This is the first study that examines the hierarchical link between individuals’ attachment style and perception of leaders using a trait-rating task within an online experiment.


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