Kim Buote

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Elizabeth Erffmeyer, John O’Connor, Sam McFarland


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Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Providing employees with performance feedback is crucial both for learning and motivation within the organizational setting. Previous research has identified the characteristics that differentiate destructive negative feedback from constructive negative feedback (Baron, 1988). Destructive negative feedback has been found to have a number of detrimental effects including lower goal-setting and decreased feelings of self-efficacy (Baron, 1988; Greller & Herold, 1975). Moreover, source credibility has been found to influence reactions to feedback (Greller & Herold, 1975; Ilgen, Fisher, & Taylor, 1979). Finally, selfesteem has been identified as an important variable within the feedback context. Specifically, individuals who possess either high or low self-esteem are differentially affected by negative feedback (Brockner, Derr, & Laing, 1987).

The present research was designed to investigate the effects of destructive and constructive negative feedback, as delivered by either a high or low credibility source, on self-set goals and task-specific self-efficacy. The role of self-esteem in reactions to feedback was also investigated. Contrary to expectations, subjects who received destructive negative feedback (ie. feedback that was general in content, inconsiderate in tone, contained threats, and attributed poor performance to internal causes) did not exhibit lower levels of goal-setting and self-efficacy than did subjects who received comparatively constructive negative feedback.

In addition, an examination of the relationship between self-esteem, self-efficacy, and goal-setting uncovered a linear causal model linking these three variables. Specifically, task-specific self-efficacy was found to mediate self-esteem's indirect effect on goal-setting.

Finally, suggested research directions that would help to clarify both the relationship between feedback, behavior, and motivation, in addition to the mediating effects of individual difference variables, were outlined.


Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences