Professor in Evolutionary Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology


Leadership and status

Dual Model of Leadership and Hierarchy: Evolutionary Synthesis

Van Vugt, M., & Smith, J. E. (2019). A Dual Model of Leadership and Hierarchy: Evolutionary Synthesis. Trends in cognitive sciences



From the popularity of authoritarian political leaders to the under-representation of women in boardrooms, leadership is an important theme in current human social affairs. Leadership is also a prominent research topic in the biological, social, and cognitive sciences. However, these active literatures have evolved somewhat independently and there is a need for synthesis. A comparative-evolutionary approach can integrate seemingly divergent perspectives by making a distinction between two leadership styles, prestige and dominance, that have contrasting expressions, functions, histories, and neural and developmental pathways. The distinction may help to resolve various scientific puzzles, such as: (i) opposing views on the different functions and expressions of leadership; (ii) the appeal of dominance-style leaders; and (iii) sex biases in leadership emergence in modern society.

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