Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Sigal G. Barsade


Emotional displays by leaders directly impact individuals and teams, yet little is known about how these same displays impact leaders themselves, particularly in the realm of extreme, high arousal emotions. One high arousal discrete emotion that has received increased fanfare in organizations of late is passion, as employees are encouraged to find their passion and be passionate about their work. In this dissertation, I seek to examine how expressions of passion in organizations influence leaders’ organizational status. Study 1 draws upon ~35,000 publicly-available videos of United States Congress members from 2001-2015. Using a computational approach, I analyze the gestures, voice, and facial emotions of Congress members in this video corpus using state-of-the-art computational techniques and compare this to their subsequent gains in organizational status. Study 2 builds upon the results of the first by manipulating expressions of passion in the laboratory using trained actors, allowing for the examination of potential mediators of the relationship between expressions of passion and status. As predicted, my findings showed that both positive and negative passion resulted in Congress members garnering higher status. In study 1, I found that Congress members who displayed more positively or negatively-valenced passion received a higher vote percentage. The results with respect to gender present some interesting and unexpected complexities. In line with hypotheses, women displaying positive passion received less funding than men displaying the same. Unexpectedly, however, women displaying positive passion received a larger percent of the vote than men displaying the same. Longitudinal analyses support the attribution theory perspective, whereby consistent displays of passion resulted in an increasing accumulation of vote percentage over time. Study 2 largely confirmed the results of study 1 in showing that both positive and negative displays of passion result in higher status. As expected, the impact of positive passion on status was mediated by sensitivity and dynamism, and the impact of negative passion on status was mediated by competence and dominance—however, negative passion was also unexpectedly shown to impact status through perceptions of dedication and dynamism. Implications and future directions for the study of emotional displays, leadership, and status are discussed.