What makes a leader worthy of support? The article uses novel survey and experimental data from Indonesia to test the proposition that identity trumps performance for citizens perceptions of their political leaders. The results confirm theories of ‘prototypicality’—leaders that best reflect and represent the identity of the group tend to be more trusted and have a licence to fail. We argue and show that the dimensions of identity that matter most varies and is context specific. In the Indonesian context religious identity is most important. But the data also suggest that this varies across space, time, and follower identity: We show that gender matters, as women are less easily persuaded by prototypicality. We conclude by reflecting on the implications for leaders, politics and support for leadership development.
- social identity theory
- women in politics