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Title: Abstract Construal of Top Leaders: Respect as a Mediator
Keywords: CLT, Distance, Leadership, Trust, Respect, Followers
Issue Date: 14-Jan-2010
Citation: SMITA SINGH (2010-01-14). Abstract Construal of Top Leaders: Respect as a Mediator. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In the leadership literature, one longstanding issue is that leaders are sometimes described in by trait terms and sometimes by behavioral acts. To explain this inconsistency, Construal Level Theory (CLT; Trope & Liberman, 2003) was applied in this research. One of the premises of CLT is that construal of any stimulus is driven by how distant it is from the perceivers. More specifically, distant stimuli are construed in abstract terms but close stimuli are construed in concrete terms. So, the working hypothesis was that top, relative to immediate, bosses should be construed at more abstract trait terms. In Experiment 1, a Leader Behavior Construal Scale (LBCS), patterned after the Behavioral Identification Form (Vallacher & Wegner, 1989), was developed. Responses on LBCS consisting of trait and behavioral related items formed a single factor. More important, the socially distant top, relative to the proximal, immediate boss in Experiment 1(N = 180) was construed at a more abstract level. In Experiment 2 (N = 300), ¿self as boss¿ was also construed at a more abstract level than the boss, suggesting that distance, but not familiarity, underlies the difference between leadership construal. Experiment 3 (N = 120) was similar to Experiment 1 but tested the hypothesis that respect for the leader mediates the construal difference. The measures of trust in and respect for the leader were taken to test the hypothesis and to refute the objections of the common method bias and the omitted variable problem. Results showed that trust in leaders was distinguishable from respect for them. More interestingly, trust in the leader was constant but respect increased with distance. Respect also mediated the effect of psychological distance on leadership construal. Taken collectively, these results explain why trait or behavioral acts are used to describe the leaders. Essentially, it is the distance between leaders and followers that activates such construals.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D Theses (Open)

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