Ritzenhöfer, Lisa, Prisca Brosi, Matthias Spörrle and Isabell M. Welpe

Leader pride and gratitude differentially impact follower trust

Journal of Managerial Psychology, 32 (6): 459-445, (2017).

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1108/JMP-08-2016-0235

Abstract: Purpose Current research suggests a positive link between followers’ perceptions of their leaders’ expression of positive emotions and followers’ trust in their leaders. Based on the theories about the social function of emotions, the authors aim to qualify this generalized assumption. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that followers’ perceptions of leaders’ expressions of specific positive emotions – namely, pride and gratitude – differentially influence follower ratings of leaders’ trustworthiness (benevolence, integrity, and ability), and, ultimately, trust in the leader. Design/methodology/approach The hypotheses were tested using a multimethod approach combining experimental evidence (n=271) with longitudinal field data (n=120). Findings Both when experimentally manipulating leaders’ emotion expressions and when measuring followers’ perceptions of leaders’ emotion expressions, this research found leaders’ expressions of pride to be consistently associated with lower perceived benevolence, while leaders’ expressions of gratitude were associated with higher perceptions of benevolence and integrity. Originality/value This paper theoretically and empirically establishes that leaders’ expressions of discrete positive emotions differentially influence followers’ trust in the leader via trustworthiness perceptions.

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