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Do Trends Matter

Do Trends Matter? The Effects of Dynamic Performance Trends and Personality Traits on Performance Appraisals

Joseph A. Schmidt 

Two studies were conducted to understand how people make overall performance judgments based on dynamic performance trend information and the personality characteristics of ratees. University athletes were sampled in Study 1 and the results showed that improving performance trends resulted in higher appraisals of task performance. Contrary to previous experimental research, raters did not use trend information to make attributions about the targets’ effort or other behavioral characteristics. There were also interactions between performance trends and personality: performance trends were positively associated with task performance ratings for players with high extraversion and low agreeableness, while trends were unrelated to ratings for players at the opposite end of the continuum for these traits. The second study was an experiment designed to test the potential theoretical mechanisms that explained the effects observed in Study 1. The results showed that raters used performance trend information to derive task performance ratings, while they used personality information to derive ratings of citizenship behavior. Attributions about employee effort and ability were based on both performance trends and personality. The results also indicated that raters engaged in more deliberative (controlled) cognitive processing when the target’s personality and performance trend were incongruent, which may explain the interaction effects observed in Study 1. Implications for theories of social cognition and performance appraisal are discussed. 

performance evaluation, personality, longitudinal trends, growth modeling

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