Task type as a moderator of positive/negative feedback effects on motivation and performance: A regulatory focus perspective

Dina Van Dijk, Avraham N. Kluger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations

Abstract

Applying Higgins' regulatory focus theory, we hypothesized that the effect of positive/negative feedback on motivation and performance is moderated by task type, which is argued to be an antecedent to situational regulatory focus (promotion or prevention). Thus, first we demonstrated that some tasks (e.g., tasks requiring creativity) are perceived as promotion tasks, whereas others (e.g., those requiring vigilance and attention to detail) are perceived as prevention tasks. Second, as expected, our tests in two studies of the moderation hypothesis showed that positive feedback increased self-reported motivation (meta-analysis across samples: N=315, d=0.43) and actual performance (N=55, d=0.67) among people working on promotion tasks, relative to negative feedback. Positive feedback, however, decreased motivation (N=318, d=-0.33) and performance (N=55, d=-0.37) among individuals working on prevention tasks, relative to negative feedback. These findings suggest that (a) performance of different tasks can affect regulatory focus and (b) variability in positive/negative feedback effects can be partially explained by regulatory focus and task type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1084-1105
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Volume32
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2011

Keywords

  • Feedback
  • Feedback sign
  • Motivation
  • Performance
  • Prevention and promotion foci
  • Regulatory focus
  • Task type

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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