Measurement of transformational leadership through a conditional reasoning test

Demiran, Ayça
The aim of the current study is to assess transformational leadership proclivities based on the Conditional Reasoning Test approach (CRT; James, 1998). The CRT is a relatively new implicit assessment system that is used to identify the justification mechanisms (i.e. cognitive biases) indicative of specific motives which underlie personality (James, 1998). ‘Justification mechanisms’ (JMs) are rational and sensible explanations- in contrast to irrational and foolish- that people are inclined to produce for their behaviors and decisions (James, & Mazerolle, 2002; Kunda, 1990). People with different personalities and motives have different JMs. The power motive-with its’ JMs of agentic bias and power attribution bias-, the activity inhibition motive, the change motive-with its’ JMs of efficacy and personal responsibility inclination bias, positive connotation of change bias, and identification with change initiators bias-, and finally the exhibition motive were determined as the motives of leaders and transformational leaders. The present study sample included 234 participants; 81 in a leadership position and 153 in a subordinate position. The CRT that was developed had a moderate effect size in the prediction of whether or not employees occupied a leadership position, and improved prediction of position v over conceptually equivalent self-report counterparts. Furthermore, CRT had a significant moderate association with subordinate ratings of the target leaders’ transformational leadership style offering significant incremental variance over leader’s self-rated transformational leadership perceptions, personality, and motivation to lead. The study contributes to the literature on implicit personality assessment via conditional reasoning using justification mechanisms and to the assessment of leadership.