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Obliterating rating distortions: role of rater disposition and rating context

Malik Ikramullah (Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS University Islamabad, Islamabad, Pakistan)
Ammad Ahmed Khan Khalil (Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS University Islamabad, Islamabad, Pakistan)
Muhammad Zahid Iqbal (Department of Management Sciences, National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, Pakistan)
Faqir Sajjad Ul Hassan (Department of Management Sciences, Khushal Khan Khattak University, Karak, Pakistan)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 2 December 2022

Issue publication date: 17 January 2023




Recent performance appraisal (PA) literature suggests that alongside cognitive biases, rating distortions may stem from rater disposition and PA context. The study investigated the role of social value orientation (rater disposition), PA purposes and rater accountability (PA context) toward rating distortions at both performance levels, i.e. good and poor.


The authors designed an experimental study and elicited data from N = 110 undergraduate students about two video-taped performances of good and poor performers. In these videos, two managers conducted assessment interviews of two different employees for the job of a sales representative at an information technology organization. To ensure the validity of performance ratings, the authors invited 10 senior managers to provide benchmark ratings of the video-taped performances. While being placed in two separate groups, the study participants gave performance ratings on both the video-taped performances. The authors used repeated-measures analysis to analyze data.


The results revealed that rating distortions took place not because of rater social value orientation, but the PA context. Different rating distortion patterns emerged for different levels of ratees' performance.


This study’s findings furnish new insights for assessing rating distortions for poor as well as good performers. Moreover, the results support previous findings that for good performers, accountable raters are tempted toward accurate ratings and refrained from deflation. Similarly, for poor performers, accountable raters do not inflate ratings. The findings will open research avenues to examine the role of PA purposes in rating distortions for different performance levels.



Ikramullah, M., Khalil, A.A.K., Iqbal, M.Z. and Ul Hassan, F.S. (2023), "Obliterating rating distortions: role of rater disposition and rating context", Management Decision, Vol. 61 No. 1, pp. 8-32.



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