Thoughts from my study of Horror, Media, and Narrrative

Believing One’s Own Press

In their article, “Believing One’s Own Press:  The Causes and Consequences of CEO Celebrity,” Hayward et al. discuss the conflation of companies and their celebrity leaders by journalists.[1] Although it should be noted that the authors focus primarily on journalists, we can understand the tendency to oversimplify situations in order to understand complex and nebulous narratives.

Take, for example, a study conducted by Jones and Harris in 1967 demonstrating that the prevalent attitudes in a writing sample were attributed to its author:  this study represented the first time that the Fundamental Attribution Error had been observed (although it was not immediately labeled as such). In short, the Fundamental Attribution Error posits that observers tend to ignore situational explanations in favor of personality- or dispositional-based ones. In turn, these perceptions of us, once established, can cause us to act in particular ways as we endeavor to maintain our public image. Although the corollary between the Fundamental Attribution Error and the celebrity CEO might not seem apparent at first, we can understand how humans have learned to employ the Fundamental Attribution Error as a type of heuristic—a mental shortcut—in order to simply a intricate situation into manageable (and readily understood) explanations. In the case of the Fundamental Attribution Error, we see an eschewing of situational/environmental factors as we focus on an individual. Similarly, we focus on the actions and exploits of a celebrity CEO, channeling the output of a multidimensional process through a figurehead. Moreover, we can also use the lens provided by the Fundamental Attribution error to better understand the Hayward’s connections between hubristic actions of celebrity CEOs, image maintenance, and ego.

[1] Hayward, M. L., Rindova, V. P., & Pollock, T. G. (2204). Believing One’s Own Press: The Causes and Consequences of CEO Celebrity. Strategic Management Journal , 637-653.


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