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War and peace require different leaders

Times of war seem to require a different type of leader than times of peace. A team of researchers led by Brian R. Spisak and Mark Van Vugt from VU University argue that there is a biologically based hormonal connection between leadership behavior and corresponding facial characteristics. Surprisingly, not the actual biological sex, but masculine or feminine traits matter for leaders to be chosen as good warriors or peacekeepers.

Brian R. Spisak: "By showing participants different kinds of faces and asking who they would vote for as their leader during presidential elections in times of war or peace, we found that women and men were picked equally during war and peace. However, people significantly prefer leaders with masculine faces in times of war and more feminine looking leaders in times of peace regardless of the biological sex. Our research shows that war and peace elicit different leadership prototypes and that subtle facial cues of aspiring leaders help determine their perceived suitability for the job."

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Read the full article in PLoS ONE

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