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Letters of recommendation: An evolutionary psychological perspective

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  • Ian Pitchford
    Title: Letters of recommendation: An evolutionary psychological perspective Author(s): Stephen M. Colarelli ; Ma. Regina H. Alampay ; Kristopher G. Canali
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2003
      Title: Letters of recommendation: An evolutionary psychological perspective
      Author(s): Stephen M. Colarelli ; Ma. Regina H. Alampay ; Kristopher G.
      Canali
      Source: Human Relations Volume: 55 Number: 3 Page: 315 -- 344

      Publisher: Sage Publications

      Abstract: This article develops a theoretical framework for understanding
      the appeal and tone of letters of recommendation using an evolutionary
      psychological perspective. Several hypotheses derived from this framework are
      developed and tested. The authors' theoretical argument makes two major points.
      First, over the course of human evolution, people developed a preference for
      narrative information about people, and the format of letters of recommendation
      is compatible with that preference. Second, because recommenders are
      acquaintances of applicants, the tone of letters should reflect the degree to
      which the relationship with the applicant favors the recommender's interests.
      We hypothesized that, over and above an applicant's objective qualifications,
      letters of recommendation will reflect cooperative, status and mating interests
      of recommenders. We used 532 letters of recommendation written for 169
      applicants for faculty positions to test our hypotheses. The results indicated
      that the strength of the cooperative relationship between recommenders and
      applicants influenced the favorability and length of letters. In addition, male
      recommenders wrote more favorable letters for female than male applicants,
      suggesting that male mating interests may influence letter favorability. We
      conclude with implications for practice and future research.

      Keywords: evolutionary psychology; human resource management; letters of
      recommendation

      Reference Links: 38
      http://tinyurl.com/d8dd
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