The function of myths about great leaders in human culture: A cultural evolutionary perspective

Micha Popper, Omri Castelnovo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    The discussion takes an evolutionary–cultural perspective in which (a) humans are inherently attracted to large figures (i.e., leaders, heroes), perceived as competent and benevolent entities; (b) the large figure’s influence rests largely on evolutionary phylogenetic biases; (c) the large figure’s effects are expressed through a mechanism designed to transmit cultural knowledge vertically. The suggested view sheds a different light on the psychological and cultural functions of myths about great leaders, and allows us to examine issues such as charisma and culture, the place of the leader in creating collective identity and transmission of cultural norms and practices. Research directions derived from the suggested approach are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)757-774
    Number of pages18
    JournalLeadership
    Volume14
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © The Author(s) 2017.

    Keywords

    • canonical stories
    • charisma
    • culture transmission
    • Great leaders
    • relevance threshold

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Strategy and Management

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