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central tendency effects

Angelo S. DeNisi


Central tendency effects refer to a type of distributional effect ( see distributional effects in performance appraisal ). Here, we are concerned with ratings that exhibit little variance and cluster around the midpoint of the scale. As with other similar effects, this has been assumed to reflect rating errors or an unwillingness by the rater to provide ratings that discriminate among ratees. In addition, since the ratings cluster around the scale midpoint, ratings that display central tendency are not particularly useful, since everyone is essentially rated as “average.” But, again, unless we know the “true” underlying distribution of performance in a work group, it is impossible to state whether central tendency reflects an error, a lack of rater motivation to make discriminations among ratees, or a true restriction of range on ratee performance. Although there has been some disagreement over the best way to assess central tendency effects (see Saal, Downey, and Lahey, 1980 ), they have received relatively little attention in the literature, and proposed solutions in the popular business press have even included using only scales with an even number of scale anchor points, so that there is no “midpoint.” ( 1980 ). Rating the ratings: Assessing the quality of ratings data . Psychological Bulletin , 88 , 413 – 28 . ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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