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Rater Error

  1. Jay C. Thomas,
  2. Heidi Meeke

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0774

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Thomas, J. C. and Meeke, H. 2010. Rater Error. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. Pacific University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Rater errors are systematic biases affecting the distribution of assigned ratings or the construct validity of ratings, typically in the context of performance rating or grading. Rater errors that influence the distribution of ratings include leniency and severity errors and central tendency errors. Leniency and severity errors are the tendency to assign predominantly high or low ratings on a scale; central tendency error derives from a propensity to avoid assigning extreme values, which leaves most ratings near the middle of the scale. Such errors can reduce utility of ratings for decision making. For example, if raises or bonuses are contingent upon ratings and if almost all employees are rated near the top, it becomes impossible to apply contingency. In research, it is feared that these errors can restrict the range of measures, thereby reducing effect sizes.


  • halo effect;
  • leniency error;
  • severity error;
  • central tendency error;
  • recency error;
  • similar-to-me-error