Judgments of Performance: The Relative, the Absolute, and the In-Between

36 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2006 Last revised: 29 May 2015

See all articles by Katherine Alicia Burson

Katherine Alicia Burson

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Joshua Klayman

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Date Written: August 1, 2005

Abstract

People often evaluate how their abilities or their achievements compare to those of others. Such judgments tend to show asymmetric weighting: They are more influenced by impressions of one's own performance than by impressions of the comparison group. We challenge interpretations of this effect as an egocentric focus. We show that asymmetry is much smaller when predicting concrete performance measures rather than general skill level and when the judge has experienced the task in question. We attribute this to a tendency to understand poorly-specified performance scales as implicitly relative. Moreover, judges' modest tendency toward asymmetrical weighting may be adaptive, because judges often know more about their own performance than about their peers'. This does not mean, though, that judges are sensitive to optimality: We find that they are insensitive to the effects that objective feedback has on the optimal weighting of estimates of one's own and others' performance.

Keywords: above average, better than average, anchoring, miscalibration

JEL Classification: A00

Suggested Citation

Burson, Katherine Alicia and Klayman, Joshua, Judgments of Performance: The Relative, the Absolute, and the In-Between (August 1, 2005). Ross School of Business Paper No. 1015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=894129 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.894129

Katherine Alicia Burson (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

Joshua Klayman

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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