Physiological linkage among successful high-status women in international teams

Katherine R. Thorson, Oana D. Dumitru, Tessa V. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In contemporary society, decisions are often made by teams whose members represent different nationalities and genders. In the current work, participants from 55 countries formed groups of 3 to 4 people to select one of the 5 firms in a mock firm search. In all groups, one woman was randomly assigned to have higher status than her groupmates; she was also surreptitiously instructed to persuade her group to select one (randomly assigned) firm. We measured cardiac interbeat intervals for participants throughout the decision-making process to assess physiological linkage - the degree to which a 'sender's' physiological response predicts a 'receiver's' physiological response at a subsequent time interval. On average, high-status women were successful at persuasion. The physiological responses of successful high-status women were also predicted by the responses of their female groupmates: stronger linkage to female group members during the task was associated with success at persuading the group. Successful high-status women were also perceived as more persuasive than others in the group. This work shows that the link between status and successful persuasion generalizes to women among heterogeneous international teams. It also suggests that attention to others - often associated with physiological linkage - may be useful in persuading others during decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-176
Number of pages10
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Decision-making
  • Interpersonal physiology
  • Persuasion
  • Physiological linkage
  • Small groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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