Project Details


APPLICANT'S ABSTRACT: The specific aims of the three proposed studies focus on developing and testing models of the impact of evaluative feedback on perceptions of the evaluator, self-perceptions and motivation. This research tests some of the main assumptions underlying theoretical perspectives on self-affirmation and self-enhancement, and is relevant to practical issues such as the role of feedback in superior-subordinate relationships in work and at school. Furthermore, by identifying how people cope with feeling threatened by unfavorable evaluations, these studies will address an aspect of mental health relevant to the everyday experiences of people in a wide array of personal and professional settings. Three experiments are proposed, all of which involve a confederate teacher interacting with students. The main manipulations involve the teacher's evaluation of students' performance on an anagrams test. The primary predictions are that students will find unfavorable evaluations much more threatening than favorable evaluations and that they will react to this threat by enhancing their global self-esteem, diminishing their perception of how much they are threatened, and possibly by directly eliminating the threat ("proving" themselves on another task). The broad, long-term objectives of this research involve understanding the influence of interpersonal performance evaluations on self-concept, motivation and behavior. It should also provide new insights into the nature of self-enhancing responses to various types of threatening feedback and the behavioral implications of those responses. Consequently, this research may genuinely contribute to understanding interpersonal influence on self-concept and motivation in contexts such as the classroom, the workplace, and the home.
Effective start/end date8/1/907/31/92


  • National Institute of Mental Health


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