Research Output
An investigation of the role of leadership in consensus decision-making
  Leadership is a widespread phenomena in social organisms and it is recognised to facilitate coordination between individuals. While the role of leadership in group foraging or swarm movement is well understood, it is not clear if leaders would also benefit more complex forms of coordination. In particular, a number of organisms coordinate by consensus decision-making, where individuals explicitly communicate their opinions until they converge toward a common decision. Taking inspiration from physical sciences, we extend a consensus formation model to integrate leaders, which we define by three traits: persuasiveness, talkativeness, and stubbornness. We use numerical simulations to investigate the effect of the number of leaders and their characteristics on the time a group spends to reach consensus, and the bias in the final decision. We show that having a minority of influential individuals (leaders) and a majority of influenceable individuals (followers) reduces the time to reach consensus, but biases the decision towards the preferences of the leaders. This effect emerges solely from the differences in individuals’ personality traits, with the most determinant trait being the talkativeness of the individuals. Overall, we provide a comprehensive investigation of the effects of leaders and their traits on consensus decision-making.

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  • Date:

    08 April 2022

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  • Publisher

    Elsevier BV

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  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Perret, C., & Powers, S. T. (2022). An investigation of the role of leadership in consensus decision-making. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 543, Article 111094.



Leadership; Consensus decision-making; Opinion dynamics; Coordination

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