A Bias Toward Kindness Goals in Performance Feedback to Women (vs. Men)

Jampol, L, Rattan, A and Wolf, E B (2022) A Bias Toward Kindness Goals in Performance Feedback to Women (vs. Men). Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. ISSN 0146-1672 (In Press) OPEN ACCESS


While research has documented positivity biases in workplace feedback to women versus men, this phenomenon is not fully understood. We take a motivational perspective, theorizing that the gender stereotype of warmth shapes feedback givers’ goals, amplifying the importance placed on kindness when giving critical feedback to a woman versus a man. We found support for this hypothesis in a survey of professionals giving real developmental feedback (Study 1, N= 4,842 raters evaluating N=423 individuals) and 5 experiments with MBA students, lab participants, and managers (Studies 2-5, N=1,589). Across studies, people prioritized the goal of kindness more when they gave or anticipated giving critical feedback to a woman vs. a man. Studies 1, 3, and 5 suggest that this kindness bias relates to gendered positivity biases, and Studies 4a-4b tested potential mechanisms and supported an indirect effect through warmth. We discuss implications for the study of motivation and workplace gender bias.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
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© 2022 Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc. Re-use of this article is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses.

This research was generously supported by the British Academy and the Royal Society through a Newton International Fellowship awarded to the authors, London, United Kingdom (grant number: NF141049).

Funder Name: Royal Society, British Academy
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2022 08:55
Date of first compliant deposit: 22 Feb 2022
Subjects: Performance appraisal
Organisational behaviour
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2022 00:23
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/2339

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