Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This study of cognitive categorization explores the content of the schema "emergent leader." Three variables, each with two levels, are rotated to form eight leader profiles. These variables are achievement, task, and relationships orientations. Each profile is evaluated by subjects on two dependent measures, leader qualifications and leader acceptance. Profiles are rank-ordered based on ratings given, establishing the schema structures for qualified leader and acceptable leader, which in turn establish minimal conditions for leader emergence. The emergent leader is defined as one who is both qualified and acceptable to group members. Level of task difficulty and the perceiver's achievement motivation are proposed as moderating variables influencing candidate leadership ratings. High task orientation dominates the schemata for leader qualifications and acceptance. It is a necessary factor in order to form a perception of the candidate as qualified and to be accepted. Alone, it is sufficient to form the perception of a minimally qualified leader. This is true for the overall schema and for the low achiever's schema. In the high achiever's schema, however, task orientation alone is not sufficient to be perceived as a qualified leader. Personal achievement and relationships orientations are supplementary to task orientation in forming perceptions of leadership. Alone or in combination, they are insufficient to form a leadership perception. The difference in contribution each makes to strengthening the perception of a qualified leader is not significant. However, for leader acceptance, relationships orientation enhances leader perceptions significantly more than personal achievement orientation. A hierarchical model of schema structure is suggested. Achievement motivation of the subject and task difficulty moderate qualifications and acceptance ratings. Where moderators operate, they alter leadership ratings but do not notably alter schema structures. Minimal criteria for leaders to emerge require a task orientation supplemented by a least one of the other personality factors studied, personal achievement or relationships orientation. The candidate demonstrating all three attributes received significantly higher qualifications ratings than any other candidate. Finally, the study sought to determine whether we prefer leaders who are like ourselves. Due to operationalization problems, the findings are inconclusive.