Rater personality and performance-evaluation leniency

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Title Rater personality and performance-evaluation leniency
Author(s) R. Blake Jelley
Related item Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering
Start page 6080
End page 6080
Date 2005
Abstract Subjective ratings of job performance can have serious consequences for individuals, organizations, and the scientific understanding of organizational behaviour. Therefore, greater understanding of idiosyncratic rating tendencies is important. The present research investigated rater personality in the prediction of performance-rating leniency. Appraisal discomfort (Villanova, Bernardin, Dahmus, & Sims, 1993) was also investigated. In Study 1, customized rating scales, a videotaped performance vignette, and true score estimates were developed. Those materials provided the foundation for an accuracy-based measure of leniency and a simulated performance appraisal context in Study 3. In Study 2, personality experts (N = 11) considered Big Five personality constructs and narrow traits from several personality inventories as potential predictors of leniency. Experts' ratings of expected personality-leniency relations provided useful information for planning empirical investigations. In Study 3, Big Five and selected narrow trait scales were investigated empirically in a laboratory study with undergraduates (N = 150) serving as raters. Characteristics of applied performance appraisal contexts were simulated. In particular, the present research featured one-on-one "appraisal interviews" and a purportedly consequential rating task. Study 3 participants exhibited leniency under the simulated appraisal conditions. Moreover, individual differences in the extent of rater leniency were apparent. The narrow trait scales of Affiliation and Nurturance (PRF-E), and Warmth (NEO-PI-R) were correlated positively with leniency. The SFPQ facet scales of Autonomy and Good-Natured were correlated negatively with leniency. No Big Five scale exhibited a significant correlation with leniency in the hypothesized direction. Neither broad nor narrow personality measures demonstrated significant incremental validity in the prediction of leniency. However, distinct and interpretable patterns of correlations with several criterion variables were evident among constituent narrow traits from several Big Five domains. The development and investigation of variables describing raters' behaviour during appraisal interviews (i.e., apparent discomfort, extent of positive feedback, and utility of feedback) represented an important, unanticipated contribution of the present research. Also, women were higher than men on appraisal discomfort and leniency. Finally, negative correlations were observed between the number of raters in attendance and leniency criteria. Implications and limitations of the current research were discussed and directions for future research were outlined.

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