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Age effects on perceived personality and job performance

Marilena Bertolino (Department of Cognitive and Education Sciences, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy)
Donald M. Truxillo (Department of Psychology, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA)
Franco Fraccaroli (Department of Cognitive and Education Sciences, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 4 November 2013




This paper aimed to investigate how older and younger workers are perceived in terms of Big Five personality and task and contextual performance. Based on the intergroup bias phenomenon, the authors also examined whether respondent age would moderate these effects.


Participants (n=155) completed a paper survey in which they were randomly assigned to rate either a “typical” younger employee or a “typical” older employee. They filled out questionnaires containing measures of perceived personality factors and perceived job performance of an older or younger worker.


As predicted, older and younger workers were perceived differently in terms of certain Big Five personality factors and organizational citizenship behavior. These perceived differences generally reflected actual age-related differences on these variables. However, respondents' age moderated many of these effects, such that respondents' perceptions favored their own age group.

Research limitations/implications

These studies illustrate that dimensions such as perceived Big Five personality and job performance may be useful for examining workplace age stereotypes. They also illustrate that respondent age may affect these perceptions of older and younger workers.


This study goes beyond previous studies focused on the examination of general age bias. Indeed, this is the first study that examines perceptions of personality and performance dimensions of older and younger workers in a field setting. Such perceptions may have an impact on the decisions that managers make regarding older and younger workers (e.g. selection, promotions).



The authors thank Dirk Steiner and Jenn Rineer for their helpful comments on this paper. The authors also acknowledge their Master's students for their help in data collection.

 This research was funded by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca (MIUR), Programmi di Ricerca Scientifica di Rilevante Interesse Nazionale (PRIN), 2006, prot. 2006119348_003.

 Marilena Bertolino's term at the University of Trento was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Municipality of Rovereto (2006-2008).


Bertolino, M., M. Truxillo, D. and Fraccaroli, F. (2013), "Age effects on perceived personality and job performance", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 28 No. 7/8, pp. 867-885.



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