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MARK VAN VUGT is professor of social and organizational psychology at the VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands. A leading authority on the evolutionary origins of leadership, he has worked with major figures in evolutionary science, including David Buss, David Sloan Wilson, Robert Hogan and Robin Dunbar. His research has been reported all over the world in both print and broadcast media. He has been featured in The Times and New Scientist, and talked about his work on BBC Radio 4 and CNN and ABC television. He regularly gives lectures to research departments and business schools in both the UK and the US.



Mark Van Vugt's website

Featured titles

Why Some People Lead, Why Others Follow, and Why It Matters


While shelves groan under the weight of leadership manifestos, Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja deserve some credit for unleashing a Trojan Rabbit into this crowded genre... If it's true, it might one day give Upper East Side divorce lawyers the same clout The Origin of Species gave biology teachers – BUSINESS WEEK


There are few concepts as widely discussed but as little understood as leadership. By taking us back to the deepest historical and physiological foundations of our desire to lead and our willingness to follow, SELECTED makes an important contribution to addressing this deficit. It is a fascinating and eminently readable book, full of information you will want to share and arguments you will want to debate. As the authors show, much of human behaviour is explained by the fact that we are using prehistoric brains to navigate a modern world. By revealing the evolutionary foundation of leadership, SELECTED helps us understand why we have the assumptions we do and encourages us to think again about the best ways to lead – Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce


For all our modern technology, in many ways we still use Pleistocene brains. Leadership is an example of a human trait that owes much to our distant evolutionary past, rather than our technological present. Mark Van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja have written an intriguing and subtle account of the clash that results when old instincts meet new conditions – Matt Ridley, author of THE RATIONAL OPTIMIST


A really novel book on one of the most important human topics of our time... well written, innovative and fun! – Cary L. Cooper, Distinguished Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health, Lancaster University Management School 


The book's practical suggestions are worth taking seriously – NATURE


It's refreshing in a genre filled with pseudo-science and sweeping, half-baked generalisations to come across something that makes a genuine stab at being reasoned. SELECTED... is head and shoulders above most management books – Jeremy Hazlehurst, CITY A.M. 

We are all leaders or followers – or both – and we can recognize leadership in almost every area of life. But what makes a good, bad or even outstanding leader?

Fusing psychology, business, history and current affairs, SELECTED examines how and why leadership has evolved over tens of thousands of years, and presents a compelling new hypothesis: that the slow pace of evolution means there is a mismatch between modern leadership and the kind of leadership that our Stone Age brains are still wired for.

Combining academic authority with journalistic style, and full of fascinating examples spanning politics, commerce, sport and culture, the authors explain why taller political candidates usually win, why middle managers are so disliked and why we don’t like working for huge companies.

This extraordinary book explores how the psychology of leadership affects us all – and what we can do about it.


Publisher: Profile (UK)/HarperCollins (US)*
Pub Date: 26 August 2010 (UK)/18 January 2011 (US)
Length: 272 pages

All rights available excluding:
UK & Commonwealth, US, Brazil (Pensamento – Portuguese), Canada (Random House), Japan (Hayakawa), Korea (Wooongjin Think Big Co.), Netherlands (Bruna), Russia (Hippo), Turkey (Everest Yayinlari)


*Published in the US as NATURALLY SELECTED: The Evolutionary Science of Leadership