defensive pessimism, leader, follower, perceived isolation


This field study examines the joint effect of leaders’ and followers’ different cognitive characteristics (i.e., defensive pessimism) on followers’ isolation. We examine the interplay between leaders’ defensive pessimism and followers’ defensive pessimism in fostering perceptions of followers’ isolation. Data from 291 working professionals are analyzed following a series of hierarchical linear modeling and polynomial regression analyses. Polynomial regression analysis indicates that when both leaders and followers are in agreement in their defensive pessimism, the level of followers’ perceived isolation is lower than when leaders’ and followers’ defensive pessimism deviate from each other (i.e., high-low and low-high leader-follower defensive pessimism). However, when followers’ defensive pessimism is higher than leaders’ defensive pessimism, followers’ perceived isolation also is higher. By suggesting that followers’ perception of leaders’ defensive pessimism may be more complex than previously recognized, we conclude that studies of leadership need to develop a much deeper understanding of leader-follower congruence in cognitive styles in order to decrease followers’ isolation in the workplace.