Genes, Memes, and the Evolution of Human Leadership

Robert Birnbaum

in The Oxford Handbook of Leadership

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398793
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Genes, Memes, and the Evolution of Human Leadership

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This chapter employs an interpretation of human evolution to argue that leadership is collectively and misleadingly used, and then provides the word leadership with a more precise meaning. The development of the potential for human influence is then reviewed. Evolutionary processes empower the brains of species with similar adaptations needed for their survival and reproduction. Considering the development of cognitive modules as prehumans and humans moved from the Forest to the Gardens and then to the State can offer novel ways of thinking about the evolution of human leadership. The development of language, theory of mind, culture, and morality decrease reliance on the hierarchy to control the behavior of others. An evolutionary view confirms that human influence is connected to genetic predispositions, individual differences, environments with various characteristics manifested under different circumstances, the nature of others in the group, and the culture in which these all exist.

Keywords: human evolution; human leadership; human influence; evolution; brains; language; theory of mind; culture; morality; Forest

Article.  18775 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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