A mixed blessing? Dual mediating mechanisms in the relationship between dopamine transporter gene DAT1 and leadership role occupancy

Wen Dong Li, Nan Wang, Richard D. Arvey, Richie Soong, Seang Mei Saw, Zhaoli Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Trait theories of leadership have documented the role of individual characteristics in affecting leadership. Twin studies have further revealed significant genetic effects on leadership role occupancy. In the era of genomics, the current research examines how a dopamine transporter gene, DAT1, is involved in genetic influences on leadership role occupancy. Study 1 found DAT1 10-repeat allele to negatively relate to proactive personality, which in turn was positively associated with leadership role occupancy. The negative indirect effect was significant, but the overall relationship between this gene and leadership was not. In addition to replicating Study 1's findings using a nationally representative sample, Study 2 revealed another countervailing mechanism: DAT1 was positively related to (moderate) rule breaking, which was positively associated with leadership role occupancy. Consistent findings across the two studies suggest that the pathways linking specific genes to leadership are complex and a middle-ground approach is needed in such multidisciplinary investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-686
Number of pages16
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Peter Harms, Michael Zyphur, and the participants of the session “Genes and jingle-jangle: Embracing and evaluating new personality research” chaired by Deniz Ones and Mike Wilmot in the 2013 Annual Conference of Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology for their constructive comments on earlier versions of this paper. This study was partially funded by two AcRF Grants from the Singapore Ministry of Education ( R-317-000-080-112 and R-317-000-099-112 ) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71172178 ).

Keywords

  • Dopamine gene
  • Dual mechanisms
  • Leadership role occupancy
  • Proactive personality
  • Rule breaking

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