The effects of rating procedure and temporal delay on the magnitude of contrast effects in performance ratings
Becker, Geraldine A.
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Contrast effects are a robust phenomenon whereby the magnitude of a rating assigned to behavioral stimuli is contrasted away from the level observed in the same context or a preceding context. This study examined the effects of performance appraisal rating procedure and temporal delay between the viewing and rating of performance on contrast effects in performance ratings. College student participants viewed two videotapes depicting poor (anchor stimulus) and average (target stimulus) levels of performance. There was no support for the hypothesized interaction between delay and procedure. However, a significant main effect for the rating procedure factor resulted from the lower contrast effects that characterized the ratings of participants who rated both videotape performances simultaneously relative to those who rated them sequentially. In addition, a significant main effect for the delay factor indicated that contrast effects were of smaller magnitude when a delay occurred between the observation and rating of performances. These findings are discussed with respect to their implications for contrast effect research and the procedures followed in actual appraisal situations.