Professor in Evolutionary Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology


Leadership and status

Autocratic leadership in social dilemmas (2004)

Van Vugt, M., Jepson, S., Hart, C., & De Cremer, D. (2004)  Autocratic leadership in social dilemmas:  A threat to group stability. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 1-13.



This paper investigated the impact of leadership style on the stability of small social dilemma groups. In two experiments, group members were more likely to exit their group and take their resources elsewhere if they were supervised by an autocratic style leader than by a democratic or laissez-faire style leader. The destabilizing influence of autocratic leadership is due to the procedural rather than distributive aspects of this leadership style: More members exited their group under an autocratic style leader, relative to a democratic style leader, regardless of whether or not they received favorable personal outcomes from the leader. Hence, autocratic leadership is not a stable long-term solution to the problem of public goods in groups.

Copyright © 2012– Mark van Vugt