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Are people better employees than machines? Dehumanizing language and employee performance appraisals


Social Science Quarterly

Published online on


["Social Science Quarterly, EarlyView. ", "\nAbstract\n\nObjective\nAlthough performance appraisals are based on objective procedures, cognitive biases from appraisers may create avenues for errors in judgment of employee performance. Dehumanizing language, or metaphors that characterize humans in nonhuman terms (e.g., cogs in a machine), is one important way cognitive biases can occur\n\n\nMethod\nWe conduct a survey experiment\nto determine if dehumanizing language affects perceptions of employee value or competency within the context of performance appraisals.\n\n\nResult\nFindings show that when employees are referred to in mechanistic terms, respondents perceive that employee to be deserve hire compensation, and be more competent, as compared to referring to employees in human or animalistic terms.\n\n\nConclusion\nConclusions suggest dehumanizing language is an important type of cognitive bias that affects individuals in administrative environments, and the managerial and ethical implications of its use require further examination.\n\n"]