Typical Sources of Error when assessing people

There are common pitfalls to remaining objective when observing, providing feedback or interviewing others. The table below provides examples of common sources of error.

HALO

The tendency to generalise one aspect of good performance to all aspects of performance while paying less attention to negative traits and/or evidence.

HORNS

(The reverse halo effect)

Individuals who are judged as having a single undesirable trait are subsequently judged to have many poor traits, allowing a single weak point or negative behaviour to influence the overall perception of the person.

CENTRAL TENDENCY

The tendency to give "middle of the road" evaluations, often so that one can avoid having to justify high or low scores.

LENIENCY

The tendency to generally view people's performance favourably.

HARSHNESS

The tendency to generally view people's performance unfavourably.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The tendency to be most influenced by initial impressions and to disregard subsequent contrary evidence.

RECENCY

The tendency to be most influenced by the last observations made and to disregard earlier contrary evidence.

STEREOTYPING

Allowing personal biases and prejudices to distort evaluation of actual performance.