Dying for Charisma: Human inspirational appeal increases post-mortem.
In the present research, we shed light on the nature and origins of charisma by examining changes in a person’s perceived charisma that follow their death. We propose that death is an event that will strengthen the connection between the leader and the group they belong to, which in turn will increase perceptions of leaders‘ charisma. In Study 1, results from an experimental study show that a scientist who is believed to be dead is regarded as more charismatic than the same scientist believed to be alive. Moreover, this effect was accounted for by people’s perceptions that the dead scientist’s fate is more strongly connected with the fate of the groups that they represent. In Study 2, a large-scale archival analysis of Heads of States who died in office in the 21st century shows that the proportion of published news items about Heads of State that include references to charisma increases significantly after their death. These results suggest that charisma is, at least in part, a social inference that increases after death. Moreover, they suggest that social influence and inspiration can be understood as products of people’s capacity to embody valued social groups.
Steffens, N.K., Peters, K., Haslam, S.A., & Van Dick, R. (in press). Dying for Charisma: Human inspirational appeal increases post-mortem. Leadership Quarterly .