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To Rate or Not to Rate? Autonomic Response and Psychological Well-being of Employees During Performance Review

Balconi, Michela, PhD; Venturella, Irene, MSc; Fronda, Giulia, PhD; de Filippis, Daniela, MSc; Salati, Emanuela, MSc; Vanutelli, Maria Elide, PhD

doi: 10.1097/HCM.0000000000000257

Organizational research started including neurosciences exploring pivotal phenomena and promoting organizational well-being. Leadership was investigated by assessing psychophysiological responses during performance review characterized by narrative or quantitative assessments and their effects on employees' well-being. As is known, rating could be perceived as threatening for employees' ranking and status perception, leading to avoidant behaviors. Design and Methodology: Here, manager-employee dyads were assigned to 2 conditions: in the nonrate scenario, managers were asked to describe the employee's performance; in the rate one, they had to provide a quantitative rating. Skin conductance level and response and heart rate indices were continuously recorded. Findings: Dyads in nonrate condition showed higher arousal-related responses (skin conductance level and skin conductance response), perhaps highlighting an increased engagement triggered by a rewarding exchange. Conversely, in rate condition, employees showed higher heart rate, usually related to negative and stressful conditions, and avoidant behaviors. Originality/value: Results are discussed for their possible applications to employees' well-being.

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychology Catholic University of the Sacred Heart (Mss Balconi, Venturella, Fronda, and de Filippis); Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (Ms Salati); and Universita degli Studi di Milano (Dr Vanutelli), Milan, Italy.

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Michela Balconi, Department of Psychology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Largo Gemelli, 1, 20123, Milan, Italy (

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