Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 46 pages) : 1 illustration.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Matthew P. Crayne

Committee Members

Jason G. Randall


implicit leadership theories, leader error, leadership, social cynicism, Leadership, Cynicism, Followership, Social cognitive theory

Subject Categories



The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of negative-typical implicit leadership theories (ILTs), a follower’s cognitive framing and expectation for leaders on average to be more tyrannical and less sensitive in their actions and traits, on a follower’s evaluation of leader error. These are based on negative experiences with actual leaders. The study also investigated the effects of cynical beliefs that people are bad and that interactions with others will end poorly, on negative-typical ILTs and on the evaluation of leader error. A sample of 221 undergraduates read a vignette filled with potential errors and were asked to identify and rate errors for severity and intentionality while imagining they were a subordinate of the team leader. Results suggest that there is a relationship between social cynicism beliefs and perceptions of tyranny for leaders in general, however there was no connection to perceptions of insensitivity. Results further suggest that followers with negative-typical ILTs are less likely to report leader errors. This study was the first to empirically investigate the role of ILTs in the evaluation of leader error and provides support that negative typical ILTs are important to consider. Theoretical contributions and future directions for research as well as practical implications are discussed.

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