Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Sam McFarland, Ray Mandel, John O'Connor

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This study attempted to resolve the controversy in implicit leadership research concerning whether factor structures commonly found in leadership questionnaires are a function of the actual factor structures of leader behaviors, of the preconceived structures of leader behavior imposed by raters, or both. This study replicated and extended the Weiss and Adler (1981) study on implicit leadership theory. 250 subjects were asked to describe an imaginary supervisor using the Survey of Organizations and the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire Form XII leadership scales. The subjects also completed a measure of the differentiation aspect of cognitive complexity. High- and low-differentiation subgroups, formed by a median split, were then compared on perceptions of leader behavior covariation. The results were mixed. With the Survey of Organizations items, the high-differentiation subgroup had a lower mean inter-item correlation and a more differentiated factor structure than the low-differentiation subgroup. The correlation between differentiation scores and within-subject across-item variances also indicated that high-differentiation raters showed greater variability in scores for each ratee across dimensions than the low-differentiation raters using the Survey of Organizations items. However, the items from the LBDQ XII did not find any substantial differences between the differentiation subgroups. The analysis of a total of 44 items chosen from the two leadership questionnaires based on their high standard deviations also failed to find a substantial difference between the two subgroups. The controversy in implicity leadership research was therefore not resolved. Further investigation with alternative methods is warranted.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Psychology Commons