“Big Men” in leadership roles [new study]

How does body weight and size affect the perceived persuasiveness of ‘leaders’ (when the ‘leader’ is a man) ? This question has recently been examined by three professors from the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, US.

Professor Kevin Kniffin and Professor Vicki  Bogan, along with faculty colleague Professor David Just (also now at Universita degli Studi di Catania, Italy), present a series of six studies :

“[…] in which we find that the anthropological concept of “big men” can carry literal meaning–in relation to “big”ness and “men”– in contemporary settings.”

Alongside the finding, the authors caution that prospective ‘leaders’ should exercise restraint with the idea of deliberately putting on more weight in order to enhance their gravitas.

“Our findings do not suggest that men should acquire more weight to be viewed as more persuasive; […]”

As can clearly be seen in the graph below :

Reference : “Big men” in the office: The gender-specific influence of weight upon persuasiveness in PLOS ONE, Nov., 2019.

Note : PLOS ONE is a rebranded version of the journal previously known as PLoS ONE. The diminutive ‘o’ in the original logo having been replaced, in 2012, by a more imposing big ‘O’.

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