The vital few of charisma – part 1/2


In this post we’re going straight to the meat! Prototype of charisma model elements.

If we wanted to call a specific communication model a “charisma” it should meet several conditions. To do that we must state what charisma does exactly in order to be considered as charisma, so then we could make (falsifiable) assumptions of how it does those things. Easiest way to state those things is to go from the top to bottom, from the most general idea to the most specific one. As you can see, charisma model is surely a very specific one. Good starting point in our little deduction would be a charismatic leadership. Long story short it is a non-rational leadership where leader is using more specific idea of charismatic authority (non-rational authority) to make followers do what they wouldn’t do otherwise (if not “asked” by the leader). Charismatic leadership is then an act of effective use of ones charismatic authority recognized by followers. Charismatic authority is then a relation between leader and followers of authority recognition based on non-rational premises. Charisma model of communication then is how leader persuaded followers to recognize his authority over them. And to recognize in this sense could also mean subliminal recognition. Hence for charisma to be a charisma it has to almost “hypnotize” followers. But we can’t really use word hypnotize, because this phenomena is still tested and wildly debated. It would be stupid of me to introduce new perspective through creating a metaphor with another unproven phenomena in it.

Charisma as communication model generating social hypnosis maybe isn’t the greatest/most accurate metaphor, but as a broad context it is hard to find a better one. Especially when you take a look at this. Under the link there is an abstract of T. Egner, G. Jamieson and J.Gruzeriel article: “Hypnosis decouples cognitive control from conflict monitoring processes of the frontal lobe”. Title says it all – this is basically what we need to do in order to acquire a non-rational authority. We need to reach emotional, decisive, limbic system with our message, induce values and norms and then rationalize them for the followers. We have to go “under the rational radar” (if I’m using this phrase properly).

This is really a prototype of my perspective on charisma and (maybe) ultimately on whole authority itself. We reached my ¾ page (arbitrarily stated) limit, so the rest of the abstract of this idea will be up tomorrow. Discussion on this one is especially encouraged. Any critique, points, or questions will be appreciated.

Take care, and see you tomorrow

– Przemek Kucia aka That Polish Guy All Dressed Up As Political Scientist LoL

P.S. If you want to know how modern charisma looks like watch this carefully:

4 thoughts on “The vital few of charisma – part 1/2

  1. tracycembor says:

    “Charismic authority is the relationship between a leader and followers based on a non-rational premise.” If the followers agree with the vision of the leader, then wouldn’t they self-rationalize it to make it fit their perception of reality as being good and right? If the message is subliminal and the authority accepted, then how do we know when the followers are following rationally vs. irrationally?

    And this is still one of my favorite TED Talks ever!

    • Przemek Kucia says:

      In classical perspective rational authority is based on hard power so to say – that’s why it is called “rational-legal”, because if you reduce law to the fact that it is made by those who have monopoly over use of force then it is “rational” to obey such authority (law) so you won’t be harmed. In other words rational/non-rational in analyzing authority does not value ideas behind authority but the motivation to obey it, so effectively if there is a threat then it’s rational, if not it is irrational (and traditional would be somewhere in between). There is some irony in it – bully has rational authority and Ken Robinson would have irrational xD

      Then point of view distilled from your question would have very great further question – is there such thing as rational authority (as if one assessed the logical quality of idea or could state that leader ability to lead/manage is sufficient so he/she will align with him)? Some argue that there is, but then they have problem that followers still have to “believe” that their leader is “right”. In this debate I honestly don’t know yet what is the most logical view, because of the problem with evaluating quality of the ideas or how the message is designed. This exactly why I begun with and focused on charismatic authority 🙂

      And even further (little bit trollish) question for classical perspective – isn’t fear of being harmed an emotion? Isn’t it irrational then? Or maybe rational is that we have evidence hence feeling the emotion itself is rational? And so on… xD Let’s just paraphrase after Socrates that (in social/political science) we know just enough to state that we practically don’t know anything for sure 😉 But we definitely won’t stop trying 😉

      Thanks for the thought out question and the support 😀

    • Przemek Kucia says:

      It is one of my favorites and we will be analyzing it very soon. I’m now figuring out how I will make it easy to read (xD), but yeah – there are some very clever ideas in how the talk was designed provided that he had three short, and rather obvious, points to make.

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