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Personal Characteristics in Performance Appraisal Process
Does a relationship between the personal characteristics of the rater and the ratee affect the favorability of the rating? Rand and Wexley used a simulated employment interview to help answer that question. Although the employment interview and performance appraisal are two separate aspects of the human resource function, they have a similarity that seems appropriate to the question.

The subjects in the study were 160 undergraduate students who volunteered to com¬plete a questionnaire measuring interests. This resulted in four subgroups of 40 students each, divided equally among high- and low-interest memmbers. The students then viewed a videotape of an interview in which twelve questions were asked of the applicant. In each of the high- and low-interest groups, half viewed an applicant who was biographically similar and half viewed an applicant who was biographically dissimilar. After the viewing, the applicant was rated on a 25-point hiring and interpersonal judgment scale.

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The results indicated that biographical similarity was the major factor in the evaluation outcome. The ratings on job suitability, intelligence, per¬sonal attributes, and attraction increased with similarity. This result oc¬curred regardless of the race (white, black) of the applicant, or the level of racial prejudice, or the affiliation needs of the student interviewers.

Some limitations of the study include the simulation approach, with the problem of external validity, and the fact that some of the black stereotypic statements may have caused negative reinforcement of dissimi¬larity.

The study clearly indicates that the major factor in the evaluation of the job candidates was the bio¬graphical similarity between the evaluator and the applicant. Similarity increased the valuations for intelligence, personal attributes, and candidate attractiveness, regardless of the race of the applicant or the level of race prejudice and the affiliation needs of the interviewers. However, highly prejudiced interviewers awarded lower job-suitability ratings to all the applicants, regardless of their race. The study seems to show that interviewers fail to distinguish between their evaluations and their rating of interpersonal attraction. The authors suggest a "similar to me" effect that causes the errors, since people attempt to evaluate information that is similar as positive because of the reinforcement it provides them.

Source of Reference:
Robert Bowin, Human Resource Problem Solving, Prentice Hall. You can obtain this fine book here

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