When and why power corrupts: An evolutionary perspective

Charleen R. Case, Jon K. Maner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Leaders play a critical role in helping their groups achieve important goals. Some-times, however, leaders are more interested in their own personal capacity for power than they are in helpingtheir groups succeed. This chapter describes recent evolu-tionary theories and research aimed at elucidating the situational and motivational factors that influence the behavior of leaders. Drawing from findings observed in nonhumanprimates as well as those in humans, the chapter describes how human motivations for elevated social rank are similar to and different from those of our closest extant relatives. Hie chapter also reviews recent research documenting common situations that occur in both humans and other primates that might set the stage for negative leadership behaviors, as well as specific strategies leaders use to minimize threats to their power. Hie chapter closes by discussing promis-ing avenues for future research aimed at applying an evolutionary perspective to understand leadership. An evolutionary perspective provides valuable conceptual tools for understanding both the constructive and destructive aspects of leader-ship behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook on Evolution and Society
Subtitle of host publicationToward an Evolutionary Social Science
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781317258322
ISBN (Print)9781612058146
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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