How Passive 'Face Time' Affects Perceptions of Employees: Evidence of Spontaneous Trait Inference in Context

42 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2008  

Kimberly Elsbach

University of California, Davis - Graduate School of Management

Daniel M. Cable

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School

Jeffrey Sherman

University of California, Davis - Department of Psychology

Date Written: September 29, 2008

Abstract

We examine how and why passive face time (being passively observed at work) might affect perceptions of employees in professional settings. Findings from a qualitative study suggest that passive face time exists in two forms: (1) being seen at work during normal business hours - or expected face time, and (2) being seen at work outside of normal business hours - or extracurricular face time. These two forms of passive face time appear to affect employee perceptions because they lead to trait inferences. Expected face time leads to inferences that an employee is "dependable," while extracurricular passive face time leads to inferences that an employee is "committed". Findings from an experimental study provide confirmation of our qualitative findings and suggest that trait inferences are made spontaneously. We discuss the implications of our findings for theories of organizational citizenship behavior and trait inference, and for the practice of performance evaluation.

Suggested Citation

Elsbach, Kimberly and Cable, Daniel M. and Sherman, Jeffrey, How Passive 'Face Time' Affects Perceptions of Employees: Evidence of Spontaneous Trait Inference in Context (September 29, 2008). UC Davis Graduate School of Management Research Paper No. 08-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1295006 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1295006

Kimberly Elsbach (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - Graduate School of Management ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States
530-752-0910 (Phone)

Daniel M. Cable

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

McColl Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490
United States
919-962-6145 (Phone)

Jeffrey Sherman

University of California, Davis - Department of Psychology ( email )

Davis, CA 95616
United States
530-752-7586 (Phone)

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