Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Edward L. Levine, Ph.D.


Performance appraisal, Positive/negative distortion, Perception, Self-assessment, Performance ratings, Performance feedback


This study built upon the theoretical feedback process of Ilgen, Fisher and Taylor (1979), as refined by Kinicki, Prussia, Wu, & Mckee-Ryan (2004), to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the mechanism underlying an individual's response to performance feedback. The feedback model implicates source credibility and the feedback-rich environment as critical elements in the process explaining recipient accuracy perceptions and responses. Thus the sign and perceived accuracy of performance feedback were investigated in a 3 x 3 (plus control) experimental design. One hundred fifty-six undergraduate students were randomly assigned to feedback conditions, in which they performed on a three-trial Lego model reproduction task. After trial one, participants received false feedback from a confederate supervisor. The feedback was based on fictional norm tables, which framed the participant's performance as falling into the 70th percentile (positive), 50th percenti

le (average), or 30th percentile (negative) according to condition. The supervisor then supplemented the norm tables with conclusive comments designed to be perceived as positive distortion of the norm table feedback, reinforcement of norm tables (accurate feedback), or negative distortion of the norm tables. Performance time, errors, task-specific self-efficacy, self-assessment of performance, and self-report effort-expended data were collected on trials one through three. The results indicated a significant interaction between feedback sign and perceived feedback accuracy on participant performance (F(4,132) = 3.72, p < 0.01), whereby the performance in the positively distorted-positive sign feedback condition was significantly higher than performance in the positively distorted-negative sign feedback condition. When the feedback was perceived to be accurate, negative sign feedback resulted in significantly better performance compared to the positive feedback condition (contrar

y to previous research). Task-specific self-efficacy was not found to mediate the relationship between type of feedback and performance, and no significant effect of feedback sign or perceived feedback accuracy on task-specific self-efficacy was found. These findings provide possible explanation as to why supervisors tend to positively distort both sign and accuracy in performance appraisals (e.g., Benedict & Levine, 1988). Implications for theoretical expansion of the feedback process model, and application to workplace performance management are discussed.