The Effects of feedback sign, achievement goal orientation and regulatory focus on task performance

Şahan, Tolga
The current study aimed to examine the effects of feedback on performance. In the feedback literature, a number of moderators have already been proposed for the relationship between feedback and task performance, such as task complexity, goal-setting intervention, regulatory focus and goal orientation. In this study, the effects of both dispositional and contextually induced goal orientation and regulatory focus, and the effects of feedback sign and self-efficacy were experimentally examined using a medium complexity computerized task. A between-subjects factorial design was adopted in which, the performers were provided with a positive or negative feedback consistent with their task performance. 207 participants were randomly assigned to one of the four experimental conditions (i.e., situational mastery goal orientation (MGO); situational performance goal orientation (PGO); situational promotion focus; situational prevention focus) following the filling out of a set of questionnaire, measuring their goal orientation, regulatory focus and task-specific self-efficacy. Goal orientations and regulatory foci were situationally and temporarily activated by a number of experimental manipulations conducted shortly before the experiment. Each participant individually took part in a computerized task, composed of two identical sessions which required estimating the arrival time of a moving object to a predetermined point on the computer screen. Upon the completion of the 1st session, participants were provided with feedback consistent with their actual task performance (i.e., estimation of the arrival moment). Following the feedback, participants completed the 2nd session. The change in the “estimation” performance was measured in terms of the direction and the magnitude (in milliseconds) and used as the dependent variable in the analyses. The 1st hypothesis suggested the higher benefit of feedback in PGO condition than MGO condition. Results supported this hypothesis by showing that the mean performance was improved for both conditions and the magnitude of the performance improvement was significantly higher in PGO condition than MGO condition. The second hypothesis proposed the higher effectiveness of the positive feedback in promotion condition than prevention; and the higher effectiveness of the negative feedback in prevention condition than promotion. As opposed to the expectations, positive feedback was detrimental to performance in the promotion focus condition and negative feedback was effective in both conditions and the magnitude of the performance improvement was higher in the prevention condition. The last hypotheses asserted that compared to low, individuals with high task-specific self-efficacy would benefit more from feedback in PGO and promotion focus conditions. Results indicated that high self-efficacy individuals used feedback information more effectively than low self-efficacy individuals only in the situational PGO but not in the situational promotion focus condition. Overall, results pointed out that negative feedback was more effective or functional than positive feedback for such short-term, moderate complexity tasks. Findings, their implications for research and practice in addition to the strengths and limitations of the study are discussed.


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Citation Formats
T. Şahan, “The Effects of feedback sign, achievement goal orientation and regulatory focus on task performance,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2013.