Mesch, D. J., Farh, J. L., & Podsakoff, P. M. (1994). Effects of feedback sign on group goal setting, strategies, and performance. Group and Organization Management, 19, 309-333.

The effects of negative or positive feedback on group goal-setting, strategy development, and task performance were observed in 177 undergraduates assigned to three-person groups to complete a group word-recognition task. Upon completing the task, groups were given either positive or negative feedback. Then the groups rewrote strategies to perform the task again.

The negative feedback groups were less satisfied but they set higher goals, developed more strategies, and performed at higher levels than the positive feedback groups.

This study supports the need for continual challenges to improve in a learning task.

Implication. In a learning task, some of the goals that are established should be oriented to improving in factors that are not performed proficiently. The best feedback would be a mix of positive indications of successfully performed elements plus further indications of where other elements could be improved (veiled negative feedback).

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