Charismatic rhetoric, perceptions of charisma and narcissism, and voting behavior: Leadership under crisis
Although research recognizes the influence of charismatic leadership and rhetoric, their practice in differing contexts and the moderating role of narcissism is understudied. Using a mixed-methods approach, we explore the effects of crises on the way a narcissistic leader employs charismatic rhetoric, and the way charismatic leadership is viewed by followers as they select leaders during a national crisis. In Study 1, we investigate former President Donald Trump’s response to threats to his social power during times of crisis. Content analysis of Trump’s speeches revealed that he used less charismatic rhetoric overall and more self-focused rhetoric during crisis periods, an unexpected outcome given existing findings in the literature. In Study 2, we explore followers’ responses to Trump’s perceived charisma. Three matched waves of data examined responses about perceived charisma, importance placed on the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and leader choice. Findings from Study 2 suggest that crisis influenced perceptions of charisma and voting behavior, with leader narcissism playing a moderating role. Overall, our findings have implications for understanding the role of crisis in charismatic rhetoric and how narcissism and leader charisma influence followers’ voting behavior.
0000-0001-5671-1045, 0000-0003-3761-1350, 0000-0001-5028-1355, 0000-0003-0929-7018
Barreto, Tais; Williams, Ethlyn A.; Sims, Randi L.; Pillai, Rajnandini; McCombs, Kate; and Lowe, Kevin, "Charismatic rhetoric, perceptions of charisma and narcissism, and voting behavior: Leadership under crisis" (2023). HCBE Faculty Articles. 1183.