Examining the impact of impression management context and self-monitoring on the leniency and accuracy of self-appraisals

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Virginia Tech


Self-appraisals of performance are traditionally lenient and inaccurate, hampering their practical utility in applied settings. The purpose of the current study is to examine the underlying processes, namely self-deception and impression management, which contribute to this leniency and inaccuracy. Because self-ratings are inflated regardless of environmental affordances, self-deception is said to occur. However, when environmental contingencies that reward positive self-evaluations exist, leniency and inaccuracy increases. This suggests that impression management processes also contribute to inflated and inaccurate self-appraisals. The environmental affordances associated with self-ratings are often couched in terms of reward and nonreward purposes of appraisal (POA). The occurrence of leniency and inaccuracy in reward purposes of appraisal are potentially moderated by personality variables such as self-monitoring (SM). Consequently, POA and SM were examined in the current study. Participants completed a model building task in both non-reward and reward POAs, with self-appraisals following each task. They also completed surveys which assessed their levels of self-monitoring, self-deception, and impression management. It was predicted that self-rated performance would be lenient across conditions, reflecting self-deception. It was further predicted that participants would be more lenient and less accurate in the reward POA than in the non-reward POA, reflecting impression management processes. This would suggest an additive effect in which impression management leads to increased inflation beyond the level of inflation attributed to self-deception. Finally, it was predicted that self-rating leniency in the reward POA would be moderated by self-monitoring, such that only high self-monitors would be significantly more lenient in the reward POA in terms of their self-rated performance. Repeated measure ANOVAS using four accuracy and four leniency measures yielded limited support for the hypotheses. Implications for future research are discussed.



self-appraisals, impression management context, self-monitoring, self-deception