Likeability in subjective performance evaluations: does it bias managers’ weighting of performance measures?

Bauch, Kai A.; Kotzian, Peter; Weissenberger, Barbara E. (2021). Likeability in subjective performance evaluations: does it bias managers’ weighting of performance measures? Journal of business economics, 91(1), pp. 35-59. Springer 10.1007/s11573-020-00976-0

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In this paper, we investigate how subordinate likeability induces bias in managers’ subjective performance evaluations. Based on the affect-consistency heuristic, we expect managers who use multiple performance measures to subjectively evaluate their subordinates’ performance to place greater weight on likeability-consistent performance measures than on likeability-inconsistent measures. Hence, we predict that likeability and performance information interact in affecting managers’ performance evaluations. The results of our experiment support this prediction. In line with prior research, we find evidence of likeability bias in subjective performance evaluations: likeable subordinates receive more favorable evaluations than dislikeable ones. We further find that participants adjust their performance evaluations in the presence of likeability-consistent performance information to a greater extent than in the presence of likeability-inconsistent performance information. Thus, in accordance with the affect-consistency heuristic, our results indicate that likeability bias occurs due to a differential, biased weighting of performance measures. Additionally, we find that perceived likeability is also affected by subordinates’ performance, which in turn partially mediates the effect of subordinate performance on evaluations: good performers are more likeable than poor performers. Hence, this can exacerbate likeability bias. We discuss the implications of our findings for the design of performance evaluation systems in practice.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Department of Business Management > Institute for Accounting and Controlling > Managerial Accounting

UniBE Contributor:

Bauch, Kai Alexander


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics








M Sc Lynn Carole Selhofer

Date Deposited:

29 Apr 2020 10:45

Last Modified:

26 Feb 2021 01:31

Publisher DOI:





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