This research examines the role of self-efficacy in women’s responses to elite leadership role models. Previous research on role models has been equivocal, demonstrating that the impact of social comparisons on the self is multifaceted. Using an experimental methodology, 102 female participants were presented with role models (elite, non-elite, control) before serving as the leader of an ostensible 3-person group. Findings revealed that women with low, as opposed to high, levels of leadership self-efficacy were less inspired by the highly successful role models and showed deflating contrast effects as demonstrated in their diminished identification with leadership, leadership aspirations, and leadership performance. Moreover, the performance effects were mediated by participants’ identification with leadership. This research has identified an important self-regulatory variable that influences whether people engage in assimilative or contrastive processes when making strategic comparisons and it identifies the important role of self-perception outcomes on behavioral responses to role models.

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Copyright © 2012 The Author(s). Article first published online: 8 AUG 2012. DOI: 10.1177/1948550612455066

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Hoyt, C. L. "Inspirational or Self-Deflating: The Role of Self-Efficacy in Elite Role Model Effectiveness." Social Psychological and Personality Science 4, no. 3 (May 15, 2013): 290-98. doi:10.1177/1948550612455066.