How leaders evolve
Researchers have developed a mathematical model that explores how leaders and followers emerge in different circumstances and predicts the most likely personality types of those leaders.
Rufus A. Johnstone and Andrea Manica modeled a large population whose members formed groups and competed in a simple coordination game.
The authors assumed each member would favor a different course of action, and awarded payoffs to members who recruited the most followers and to groups that agreed on a joint decision.
Contrary to previous studies suggesting that information or resources enhance an individual's tendency to become a leader, the model revealed that temperament determines a person's inclination to lead or follow.
The authors suggest that leaders are often bold, extroverted, and inquisitive because leadership involves some level of risk-taking, and because individuals with these characteristics are more likely than others to embrace that risk and make decisions for a group.
The model also found that pairs of individuals are more productive decision-makers when one person takes the lead and the other person follows, while two leaders or two followers often culminate in a stalemate.
In a large group, one leader will typically emerge when arguments are few.
The findings have been published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.