Mitigating the Potentially Demotivating Effects of Early and Frequent Feedback About Goal Progress
52 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2018 Last revised: 23 Mar 2019
Date Written: September 24, 2018
Advances in information technology have enabled organizations to provide highly frequent feedback on goal progress. Although frequent feedback can provide timely information to individuals to improve task strategies, prior research has also shown that individuals are more likely to fixate on recent results (Lurie and Swaminathan 2009). If early feedback about performance relative to a goal is unfavorable and provided frequently, individuals may incorrectly infer a low probability of goal attainment. Thus, absent an intervention, we predict that early and frequent unfavorable feedback will reduce effort duration and, in turn, performance. However, we also predict that increasing the salience of goal attainability vis-à-vis a simple reminder about the likelihood of goal attainment will weaken the negative effects of early and frequent unfavorable feedback on effort duration and performance. Results from an experiment using undergraduate students support both predictions. We find that early, frequent, unfavorable feedback results in reduced effort duration and performance, and that our intervention completely mitigates these effects. Implications for practice and theory are discussed.
Keywords: feedback, feedback frequency, goals, expectancy
JEL Classification: D90, D81, M41, M52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation