Leader emergence and affective empathy: A dynamic test of the dual-hormone hypothesis

Document Type


Publication Date



Copyright: © 2020 Vongas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Personal distress is a building block of empathy, yet has received scant attention in studies of individual differences in leadership. We investigate whether the effect of leader emergence on men’s distress is influenced by their personalized power motive (p Power) and changes in their testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) levels. In an experiment involving 96 males, p Power modulated the direction and intensity of T change in emergent leaders, with high p-Power leaders showing a more positive T change compared to their low p-Power counterparts. We also conducted a dynamic test of the dual-hormone hypothesis in which participants’ changes in T and C interacted to produce differences in personal distress. Contrary to expectations, positive changes in T were associated with increased distress at negative changes in C. Given that high T and low C are associated with leadership, we explain these findings and question the assumption that personal distress represents a shortcoming in leaders.

Publication Name


Volume Number


Issue Number

12 December



This document is currently not available here.