Introverts Give Poor Reviews to Extroverted Coworkers

December 17, 2014
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Extroverted workers should keep an eye out for introverts in the workplace.

Extroverted workers should keep an eye out for introverts in the workplace.

Researchers from Oregon State University (OSU), the University of Florida, and the University of Notre Dame have found that introverted workers are more likely to give low performance evaluations of their extroverted peers. The researchers also discovered that introverts were less likely to give extroverts credit for the work they have completed.

The study, which will be published in the Academy of Management Journal, suggests that this tendency gives introverts a powerful role in workplaces where peer evaluations are considered for bonuses.

Previous studies have examined how an individual’s personality affects evaluations of work performance, but this study is unique in its analysis of how peers’ personalities can affect an individual’s workplace evaluation, the researchers maintained.

The study involved 178 MBA students who worked in teams of 4 or 5 for the semester. Halfway through the semester, they filled out a survey with questions about their fellow team members, team process, and their own personalities.

Introverts stuck to their tribe and rated other introverts higher on the performance reviews. In contrast, the extroverts’ ratings of their peers did not vary by personality, according to the researchers.

Another study examined 143 students who played a 10-minute online game with 3 teammates, who were actually “electronic confederates.” One of these team members manifested introverted or extroverted behavior, while the team’s actual performance held constant.

Once again, introverts were less likely to offer bonuses to extroverted team members, despite the fact that all team members performed at the same level. In contrast, extroverted players did not show a preference for introverted or extroverted team members.

“We found that introverted employees are especially sensitive to their coworkers’ interpersonal traits, in particular extraversion and disagreeableness,” said Keith Leavitt, an assistant professor at OSU’s College of Business and a coauthor of the studies, in a press release. “They make judgments and evaluate performance of others with those traits in mind.”

Leavitt provided several pieces of advice: Extroverts should dial back a little when talking with introverted peers, and introverts should be more aware of their possible bias. In addition, leaders may consider these results when examining peer reviews used for team projects.