Professor in Evolutionary Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology


Leadership and status

Cognitive and social adaptations for leadership and followership (2007)

Van Vugt, M., & Kurzban, R. K. (2007). Cognitive and social adaptations for leadership and followership: Evolutionary game theory and group dynamics. In J. Forgas, W. von Hippel, & M. Haselton, Sydney symposium of Social Psychology, Vol. 9: The evolution of the social mind: Evolutionary psychology and social cognition (pp. 229-244). London: Psychology Press.



We suggest that adaptations designed for leadership and followership are the product of selection pressures associated with coordinating behavior with conspecifics. By considering the possibility that adaptive problems faced by our ancestors can be understood as different types of coordination games, we speculate that there might be a number of distinct and distinguishable adaptations associated with equilibrium strategies in these games. This evolutionary perspective might be valuable for integrating diverse research findings across disciplines in the context of the omnipresence of leader/follower dynamics in human and nonhuman groups.


Copyright © 2012– Mark van Vugt