So What Was That About?

 Posted on October 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

Here I solicited your self-ratings in six areas:

  1. Has a presence in a room.

  2. Has the ability to influence people.

  3. Knows how to lead a group.

  4. Makes people feel comfortable.

  5. Smiles at people often.

  6. Can get along with anyone.

I hope you're wondering what that was about. If you haven't already shared your answers, please be so kind as to do so now.

I've been teaching charisma. To trial lawyers, sure (especially in the context of voir dire, where being more likable than the other guy is the most important thing), but also to business students and ordinary people.

The conception of charisma I have been teaching, I adopted from an outstanding book, The Charisma Myth, by Olivia Fox Cabane. Cabane's model of charisma has three components: presence, power, and warmth.

I'd further distinguished personal power (freedom from others' power over you) from social power (power over others), and theorized that the sort of power that is relevant to charisma is personal power, combined with humility. I'd also started developing a theory of charisma in loops that I think might help people maximize their charisma.

I have decided, in the course of this, that I'm ready to stop relying on popular glosses on scientific studies of persuasion, charisma, and related topics, and go to the peer-reviewed papers documenting the studies. So I have joined the American Psychological Association for access to their library of papers and discounted subscriptions to journals. I have also subscribed to Leadership Quarterly, because most of the research into charisma has been leadership-specific.

I plan to document here some of the things I learn from my dive into the psychological literature on persuasion and charisma, possibly with the goal of writing my own book on charisma for trial lawyers.

So here's the first installment.

One recent effort to define charisma is by a group of University of Toronto professors, Konstantin O. Tskhay, Rebecca Zhu, Christopher Zou, and Nicholas O.Rule. Tskhay and his colleagues have published Charisma in Everyday Life: Conceptualization and Validation of the General Charisma Inventory in January, 2018, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (abstract).

Tskhay et al. propose that charisma is influence + affability. These are interpersonal dimensions-they only exist in relation to other people (unlike presence, for example, which you can have with nobody else around).

The six items you rated yourself on in response to my last post are the six items that comprise Tskhay and his colleagues' General Charisma Inventory. The first three...

  1. Has a presence in a room.

  2. Has the ability to influence people.

  3. Knows how to lead a group.

... Tskhay and his colleagues called "influence" and the last three...

  1. Makes people feel comfortable.

  2. Smiles at people often.

  3. Can get along with anyone.

... they denominated "affability." They found that "self-reported ratings of Influence and Affability correlated with others' ratings of Influence and Affability, respectively," and "speakers scoring higher on the GCI were more persuasive." (An interesting detail: affability predicted persuasiveness for women, but not for men, "consistent with gender stereotypes.")

So what I solicited here was your GCI self-rating, which is a rough measure of your persuasive charisma. I like this in addition to Cabane's power+presence+warmth formulation because it gives us a different way of looking at, and therefore another way of working on, charisma.

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