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Faye Flam

The Personality Trait That Holds Back Potential Leaders

“Responsibility aversion” sounds like a bad thing. But when no one takes charge, perhaps a group gleans more from all members.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” except maybe if liberated by a brain infection from Toxoplasma gondii.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” except maybe if liberated by a brain infection from Toxoplasma gondii.

Source: iStock, via Getty Images

So much news, so little time! Science sometimes makes headlines and even more often gives us a different way of thinking about the stories of the week. I’d like to delve into a few timely topics in a sort of lightning round:

In an attempt to use science to understand leadership, a group of researchers have come upon what they say is a key trait, which they call responsibility aversion. In a study published this week in Science, they show how this trait is measurable in the lab and inversely correlated to the amount of leadership people assume in real life.