Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Randall Capss, Regis O'Connor, Carley Dodd

Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Research has shown that prior expectations of on individual's performance can have a significant effect on others behavior and attitudes toward that individual. This phenomenon was tested on the emergent leadership process with zero history groups. Male students in various social fraternities at a regional university were given a leadership test designed to measure their leadership abilities. The leadership tests were never scored, but the subjects were told that they were, and, one of the group members was reported as scoring exceptionally nigh. The group was then given one of two tasks to perform, and the emergent leadership process was observed. Both perceived leadership and the rate of interaction during the group task were ranked by four observers. At the end of the group exercise, the group members ranked themselves on their leadership behavior during the exercise. The predicted leader was given significantly higher leadership rankings in all three data categories than any other group member. In a comparison of intragroup data, for each of the ten groups, it was shown that the leadership emergence was not thrown to the predicted leader; instead, he behaved in a manner that was perceived as leader-like. Although there was a difference in the predicted leaders' rankings between the two different task groups, both tasks showed significance. The predicted individuals were observed as being one or the top interacters of their group, however, there was not a significant difference. While the results did not indicate whether the significance in the predicted leader's rankings was due to a true Pygmalion effect, or an implied appointed leader, they do show that the effect of a leadership prediction on the group process is significant.


Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology