The Joy of Assessing Yourself

Providing an authority figure with an assessment of your own performance seems like a tricky proposition. After all, there’s a fine line between “convincingly laudable” and “full of shit.” Fortunately, a new study shows that when it comes to self-assessments reality isn’t all that important.

Five experiments investigated whether including self-assessments in applications for a promotion might affect their evaluation, and how this effect was influenced by measures taken to reduce or eliminate it. Self-assessments influenced judgment when the applications were judged by novices and experts, and regardless of whether the participants were warned about the unreliability of self-assessments.

The experiment reveals what is essentially the qualitative version of the anchoring effect. It doesn’t matter how unbelievable your praise for yourself is, it will still pull your supervisor’s opinion of you in that direction. The lesson for teachers, principles, managers, coaches, voters, and parents is to steer clear of self-assessments. The lesson for self-assessors is that a self-assessment is the perfect opportunity to mention the time you founded Google.
Chen, Z., & Kemp, S. (2011). Lie Hard: The Effect of Self-Assessments on Academic Promotion Decisions Journal of Economic Psychology DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2011.11.004

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