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Social and Personality Psychology Compass 4/8 (2010): 517–530, 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00285.x How Positive and Negative Feedback Motivate Goal Pursuit

By Ayelet Fishbach, Tal Eyal and Stacey R. Finkelstein


This article explores the feedback individuals give, seek, and respond to in the course of pursuing their goals. We propose that positive feedback motivates goal pursuit when it signals an increase in goal commitment, whereas negative feedback motivates goal pursuit when it signals insufficient goal progress. We review research suggesting that whether individuals are drawn to evaluate their level of commitment versus rate of progress determines the type of feedback (positive or negative) that best motivates them to pursue their goals. We then review research suggesting that these effects of feedback operate by inducing positive and negative general moods as well as specific emotions. Feedback is essential for goal pursuit. Information on successful and failed actions allows individuals to adjust and direct their efforts to match the challenge they are facing (Bandura, 1991; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Festinger, 1954; Locke & Latham, 1990). Consequently, there are specific social roles associated with providing feedback on goal pursuit. For example, educators, coaches, and bosses all provide feedback that helps individuals monitor the level and direction of their actions to ensure they meet their goals. In addition, people see

Year: 2010
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