Charisma is contagious: The effect of leaders' charisma on observers' affect

  • Cherulnik P
  • Donley K
  • Wiewel T
 et al. 
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Two studies were conducted to test the hypothesis that charismatic leadership, character- ized by nonverbal expressiveness and immediacy, would lead via emotional contagion to the imitation of the leader’s nonverbal behavior. In Study I, charismatic leaders were col- lege students whose performance of a simulated campaign speech included more smiles, more intense smiles, and longer and more frequent visual attention to the audience. Observers showed higher levels of all 4 relevant behaviors while watching charismatic leaders. In Study 2, college student participants watched more and less charismatic excerpts selected from President Clinton’s and ex-President Bush’s responses during their first 1992 televised debate. Comparing the same behaviors, there was a similar pattern to Study 1 for responses to the Clinton excerpts, and an almost reversed pattern for the Bush excerpts. The overall results support an emotional contagion effect of charismatic leader- ship when the leader exhibits truly charismatic behavior. The

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  • Paul D. Cherulnik

  • Kristina A. Donley

  • Tay Sha R. Wiewel

  • Susan R. Miller

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