Murray State University

Poster Title

Quick AND Satisfied? Effects of Positive Feedback on Task Completion - Data Collection is Complete

Institution

Murray State University

Abstract

Previous researchers have focused on the availability and quality of feedback as a mediating factor for work performance (Kluger & DiNisi, 1996). Quality feedback is that which is consistent and provides direction towards specific goals and is a major directive factor of work performance (London, 1995). As individuals that receive quality feedback during the work process tend of show better work performance, the question remains regarding regular tasks and non-work related performance. That is, what are the effects of feedback for individuals that are engaged in benign or personally irrelevant tasks? Individuals that receive quality feedback during the work process tend of show better performance, however the effects of feedback for individuals that are engaged in benign tasks remain unknown. It was hypothesized that participants that receive positive feedback will complete a personally irrelevant task (i.e., a Sudoku puzzle) more efficiently than those that do not receive feedback. Additionally, it was hypothesized that those that receive positive feedback would report greater happiness after completing the task than those that received no feedback. Participants were recruited from undergraduates at a regional university and asked to come to a lab for an appointment. There was a total of 15 male and 54 female (N = 69) ranging in age from 18 to 34 years (M = 20.12, SD = 3.31) who participated. Some participants self-reported that they had previous experience with Sudoku puzzles (n = 21) or complete other types of puzzles often (n = 31). Participants completed a survey packet which measured a variety of factors including demographics, motivation (intrinsic or extrinsic), general life satisfaction and happiness, need for cognition, tolerance, entitlement and goal orientation. Upon completion of the measures, participants were given a Sudoku puzzle to complete. Prior to arrival, participants had been randomly assigned to the control or experimental condition. Individuals in the experimental condition received positive feedback from the researcher such as, “You are doing very well” while completing the puzzle. Individuals in the control condition did not receive any feedback during the puzzle task. Upon completion of the puzzle, participants completed another brief survey packet that measured many of the same factors. To test the hypotheses, a t-test of independence was conducted. The results indicated that the experimental condition which received positive feedback completed the puzzle in significantly less time (M = 10.03, SD = 4.48) than the control group (M = 15.91, SD = 6.73) which received no feedback, t(67) = 4.29, p <.001. These findings indicate that individuals may be working harder to complete a task if they receive positive feedback. Interestingly, a separate t-test of independence showed only a marginally significant difference (t(67) = 1.42, p = .080) between satisfaction ratings, in that the experimental group was happier after completing the puzzle (M = 4.29, SD = 1.23) than the control group (M = 3.85, SD = 1.31). These results have some important implications, in that positive feedback, even in an unrelated task can lead to increased productivity and satisfaction. However, there are potentially two different explanations. Primarily, participants may be working harder because they are presented with positive potentially selfaffirming feedback as they first begin the puzzle. On the other hand, the results may also be a demonstration of the theory of social facilitation through cognition. This means that the participants are performing better in the presence of a researcher after the researcher affirms their abilities on cognitive tasks. This study is unable to differentiate between those two explanations, thus it remains unclear why participants were faster and (marginally) happier. Future studies may want to examine these ideas further. Additionally, as the findings regarding happiness were only trending, and did not actually make the significance criteria cutoff, one should be cautious of interpretation. However, it is the authors belief that this lack of significance is probably due to a small sample size. Future studies should attempt to replicate these findings with a larger sample.

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Quick AND Satisfied? Effects of Positive Feedback on Task Completion - Data Collection is Complete

Previous researchers have focused on the availability and quality of feedback as a mediating factor for work performance (Kluger & DiNisi, 1996). Quality feedback is that which is consistent and provides direction towards specific goals and is a major directive factor of work performance (London, 1995). As individuals that receive quality feedback during the work process tend of show better work performance, the question remains regarding regular tasks and non-work related performance. That is, what are the effects of feedback for individuals that are engaged in benign or personally irrelevant tasks? Individuals that receive quality feedback during the work process tend of show better performance, however the effects of feedback for individuals that are engaged in benign tasks remain unknown. It was hypothesized that participants that receive positive feedback will complete a personally irrelevant task (i.e., a Sudoku puzzle) more efficiently than those that do not receive feedback. Additionally, it was hypothesized that those that receive positive feedback would report greater happiness after completing the task than those that received no feedback. Participants were recruited from undergraduates at a regional university and asked to come to a lab for an appointment. There was a total of 15 male and 54 female (N = 69) ranging in age from 18 to 34 years (M = 20.12, SD = 3.31) who participated. Some participants self-reported that they had previous experience with Sudoku puzzles (n = 21) or complete other types of puzzles often (n = 31). Participants completed a survey packet which measured a variety of factors including demographics, motivation (intrinsic or extrinsic), general life satisfaction and happiness, need for cognition, tolerance, entitlement and goal orientation. Upon completion of the measures, participants were given a Sudoku puzzle to complete. Prior to arrival, participants had been randomly assigned to the control or experimental condition. Individuals in the experimental condition received positive feedback from the researcher such as, “You are doing very well” while completing the puzzle. Individuals in the control condition did not receive any feedback during the puzzle task. Upon completion of the puzzle, participants completed another brief survey packet that measured many of the same factors. To test the hypotheses, a t-test of independence was conducted. The results indicated that the experimental condition which received positive feedback completed the puzzle in significantly less time (M = 10.03, SD = 4.48) than the control group (M = 15.91, SD = 6.73) which received no feedback, t(67) = 4.29, p <.001. These findings indicate that individuals may be working harder to complete a task if they receive positive feedback. Interestingly, a separate t-test of independence showed only a marginally significant difference (t(67) = 1.42, p = .080) between satisfaction ratings, in that the experimental group was happier after completing the puzzle (M = 4.29, SD = 1.23) than the control group (M = 3.85, SD = 1.31). These results have some important implications, in that positive feedback, even in an unrelated task can lead to increased productivity and satisfaction. However, there are potentially two different explanations. Primarily, participants may be working harder because they are presented with positive potentially selfaffirming feedback as they first begin the puzzle. On the other hand, the results may also be a demonstration of the theory of social facilitation through cognition. This means that the participants are performing better in the presence of a researcher after the researcher affirms their abilities on cognitive tasks. This study is unable to differentiate between those two explanations, thus it remains unclear why participants were faster and (marginally) happier. Future studies may want to examine these ideas further. Additionally, as the findings regarding happiness were only trending, and did not actually make the significance criteria cutoff, one should be cautious of interpretation. However, it is the authors belief that this lack of significance is probably due to a small sample size. Future studies should attempt to replicate these findings with a larger sample.