Leadership means muscles, indeed

Washington : Want to be seen as a leader? You may want to build up some muscle, as a new study has revealed that muscular men are perceived to be better leaders than physically weak ones.

Take Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose past popularity was a result of his physical prowess as a “Mr. Universe” bodybuilder. In the 2003’s historic recall election, the physically imposing Schwarzenegger easily defeated California Governor Gray Davis, who is arguably weaker looking than ‘The Terminator.’

Study participants in a series of experiments, conducted by UC Berkeley’s Cameron Anderson and Oklahoma State University’s Aaron Lukaszewski, overwhelmingly equated physical strength with higher status and leadership qualities.

The researchers say that their findings also dispel the popular explanation that the strong succeed by aggressively intimidating their rivals into submission.

Lukaszewski noted that strong men who were perceived as being likely to behave aggressively toward other group members were actually granted less status than their apparently gentler counterparts. Together, the results suggest that the conferral of status upon formidable men, perhaps counter-intuitively, serves a fundamentally pro-social function, to enhance the effectiveness of cooperation within the group.

This phenomenon apparently applies to men only. There was little effect on participants’ perception of leadership skills when they were shown physically strong vs. weak women.

The paper is forthcoming in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (ANI)