The Impact of Biased Feedback Strategies on Performance Judgments

By Linda Ginzel
1990| Working Paper No. 1102

The experiment reported here concerns an evaluator’s judgment of the quality of another person’s performance level subsequent to that performer’s own self-evaluative remarks. Specifically, we explore the attributional consequences of biased feedback strategies which involve asking the performer constraining questions —biased to elicit primarily favorable or unfavorable performance-relevant remarks. This investigation focuses on the link between awareness of constraint and attributional adjustment when a performer’s “induced” self-evaluative comments are either in line with (i.e., congruent) or against (i.e., incongruent) the biasing implications of an evaluator’s questions. The results clearly show that performance judgments were affected by the direction of the performer’s self-evaluative comments, even when these comments were in line with, and thus constrained by, the evaluator’s own biased feedback strategy. Moreover, such failure to adjust for constraint is apparent both in the evaluation of attitudes and in the evaluation of performance. Not only were potentially constrained self- evaluations taken to reflect the performer’s true beliefs about his own ability, such self-evaluations also had an effect on judgments of the perceived quality of performance itself. Evaluators reported being quite aware that their interview questions were biased and yet they used the performer’s “constrained” answers in reaching their own conclusions about the quality of his performance. These findings extend our knowledge of correspondence bias (i.e., the tendency to explain the behavior of others as a result of a personal disposition or ability when the behavior could just as easily be explained as a natural response to situational pressures or constraints) beyond attitudes to performance judgments. Implications of biased feedback strategies in organizational contexts where the evaluator is the source of constraint are discussed._x000B__x000B_