Universal and variable leadership dimensions across human societies

Evolution and Human Behavior Vol/Iss. 41(1) Elsevier Inc. Published In Pages: 397-414
By Garfield, Zachary H., Syme, Kristen L., Hagen, Edward H.


There are certain dimensions of leadership that are present in 60% or more of cultures.


The authors determined these dimensions by identifying qualities and functions of leaders in ethnographic texts in eHRAF World Cultures, and also determining costs and benefits of leadership as recorded in previous literature and ascertaining the presence of these dimensions in the ethnographic record. The authors also tested for bias as a result of publication date, total pages of ethnography for a culture, or by gender of the ethnographer and found no significant evidence of bias. Further dimensions of leadership were shown to be present in 60% or more of cultures: conflict resolution, organization of cooperation, providing counsel/direction, miscellaneous social functions, acting as group representative, serving ritual functions, having high status, being experienced/accomplished, being knowledgeable/intelligent, being wealthy, utilizing strategic nepotism, being generous, having supernatural characteristics, benefiting from material resources, and benefiting from increased social status.


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail
Mixed-Effects Model, BootstrappingSupportedUNKNOWNUNKNOWNUNKNOWN