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The role of System Justification and Leader Legitimacy in explaining Group Reactions towards Controversial Leadership

Marques, André (2021) The role of System Justification and Leader Legitimacy in explaining Group Reactions towards Controversial Leadership. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87030) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:87030)

Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only until March 2024.

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There is substantial research investigating the underlying criteria of what makes a 'good' leader, yet research often neglects to investigate the role of followers in leader-group dynamics. Followers may be just as essential for successful leadership, as research in the transgression credit has shown that ingroup members tend to support their leaders, even when they engage in transgressive behaviour. In this research, we present 9 studies (3 experimental, 4 correlational, and 2 longitudinal) to explore underlying group's acceptance vs. rejection of transgressive and controversial leaders. The first set of studies (Studies 1-3) experimentally demonstrated that followers that perceived their leaders as more legitimate, were also more accepting of their leader's transgressions. This effect of leader legitimacy persisted even in the absence of formal social control measures towards the transgressive leader (Study 2), or when controlling for leader prototypicality (Study 3). In the second set of studies (Studies 4-6), we consistently found strong associations between system justification beliefs and attributions of legitimacy towards three arguably controversial leaders - Donald Trump, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson - ultimately predicting distinctive cognitive and emotional reactions towards such leaders. In the last set of studies (Studies 7-9), we integrated the role of national identification and intergroup threat processes in our overall model to further explore the legitimization of controversial leaders. In sum, we found that more nationalistic citizens are more supportive of the status quo which, in turn, explains greater legitimacy for conservative leaders (typically known for their stricter stance on immigration) which, in turn, is associated with participants' harsher attitudes towards immigrants. Altogether, these results suggest that people who strongly identify with their group, will further support the current system in place, will legitimize more leaders protective of that same system (albeit through controversial measures), thus fuelling (and potentially justifying) their own attitudes towards outgroups.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Randsley de Moura, Georgina
Thesis advisor: Abrams, Dominic
Thesis advisor: Leite, Ana
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87030
Uncontrolled keywords: Leadership Legitimacy Group dynamics Transgression credit Collective protest Social control System justification
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2021 15:10 UTC
Last Modified: 19 May 2021 15:31 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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