Divide and Conquer: Effects of Highlighting Sub-Group Divisions on Leader Support from the Majority

  • Author / Creator
    Ma, Angela
  • All groups have prototypes, “fuzzy sets” of attributes that define the group’s identity. These prototypes are dynamic, creating opportunities for leaders to promote versions of the group prototype that fit their vision for this group’s future. Previous studies have suggested leaders can use rhetoric to manipulate the boundaries of their groups, expanding the group to include more people, or attempting to create new categorizations altogether. However, these studies have been qualitative in nature, drawing their conclusions through analyzing historical documents and transcripts from large observational studies. The current study empirically tested the effects of exclusionary and inclusionary leader rhetoric on perceptions of the leader as well as perceptions of the group. Participants were 110 Albertan university students. They read arguments by a student leader suggesting that non-Albertan students either did or did not share the values of Albertan students. The student leader’s rhetoric (exclusionary or inclusionary) and their prototypicality (high or low) was manipulated. Results show that using exclusionary rhetoric led to decreased support for both prototypical and non-prototypical leaders. Participants who strongly identified with being Albertan showed greater support for excluding non-Albertans when they were exposed to a prototypical leader who used exclusionary rhetoric. From these findings we conclude that while the use of exclusionary rhetoric may not always be an effective tool for leaders seeking to gain more support from majority subgroup members, exposure to this rhetoric may still cause highly-identified majority subgroup members to become more amenable to policies that exclude minority subgroup members from positions of authority within the group.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.