Shouldering responsibility

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Science  03 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6401, pp. 449-450
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau5392

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A key element of leadership is the decision to shoulder responsibility for the welfare of others, whether they are one's family, a political party, or, as with heads of state, the entire country. In animal groups such as fish shoals or bird flocks, leadership may passively result from simple coordination principles (1, 2). By contrast, human leaders often actively make decisions on behalf of others. Although previous work has identified factors that predict those who will end up as leaders (3), it remains unclear how leaders decide to shoulder responsibility. On page 467 of this issue, Edelson et al. (4) provide further understanding on the psychological and neural processes engaged when someone decides to lead. They show that such decisions are intimately linked to our confidence in making decisions for others.