Dopamine transporter gene DAT1 and leadership role occupancy: Examining dual mediating mechanisms


Li, Wendong; Song, Zhaoli; Wang, Nan; Arvey, Richard D.; Soong, Richie; & Mei, Saw Seang (2014). Dopamine transporter gene DAT1 and leadership role occupancy: Examining dual mediating mechanisms. 2014 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Research on trait theories of leadership has consistently shown that individual difference variables are critical in shaping leadership processes. Classical twin studies have further reported appreciable genetic effects on leadership role occupancy. In the new era of genomics, researchers have just begun to explore specific DNA markers related to leadership. Extending this line of inquiry, the current research examines how a dopamine transporter gene, DAT1, is related to leadership role occupancy by drawing upon leadership theories, molecular genetic research, and other related areas through two empirical studies. The first study finds DAT1 10-repeat allele to be negatively related to proactive personality, which in turn is positively associated with leadership. The indirect effect is found significant, but the overall relationship between the genetic marker and leadership role occupancy is not. The findings spurred the second study using a nationally representative sample. In addition to replicating the findings of Study 1, Study 2 reveals another countervailing mechanism: DAT1 10-repeat allele is found to be positively related to rule breaking, which is then positively associated with leadership role occupancy. Consistent findings across the two studies suggest that the pathways linking specific genes to leadership are complex. The results also have implications for future research on biological foundations of leadership and for adopting a more theory-driven approach.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2014 Add Health Users Conference


Li, Wendong
Song, Zhaoli
Wang, Nan
Arvey, Richard D.
Soong, Richie
Mei, Saw Seang

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID