Graduation Date

Summer 2020

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Amber Gaffney

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Taylor Bloedon

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Benjamin Graham

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



The rates of obesity in the US was 42.4% in 2017-2018. Engaging people’s social identities through leadership may be an effective method to encourage weight loss. The social identity approach to leadership often examines representative and prototypical leadership as of the average group traits or as leaders who are similar to followers. However, exceptional leaders may also be prototypical. The preference for exceptional (ideal) over similar (representative) leaders may lie in the identity function the leader serves. Here, I hypothesized that ideal leaders (e.g., someone who has already successfully lost weight), who embody extreme positive group attributes are most influential when followers experience uncertainty and/or the ingroup is engaged in competition, while similar leaders (e.g., someone who is losing weight with the group) are more effective under low uncertainty when the group is not engaged in competition. Ideal leaders have the ability to separate the ingroup from relative outgroups and clarify group prototypes, which should be particularly attractive in times of competition and uncertainty. Participants were placed in a hypothetical weight loss group (lead by an ideal or representative leader) that is either in competition with another or not. Results found that participants led by an ideal leader had greater weight loss intentions than those led by a representative leader. However, in the opposite direction of what was expected, participants who were uncertain and those in competition had lower weight loss intentions than those who were certain and those who were not engaged in competition.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location