Transmission of positive and negative feedback to subordinates: A laboratory investigation

Cynthia D Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

162 Citations (Scopus)


A review of the literature revealed that superiors were often thought to be poor sources of performance feedback for their subordinates. A study was undertaken to discover if and when delay and upward distortion of feedback occurred. It was expected that feedback to moderately low performers would be delayed longer and distorted upward more than would feedback to moderately high performers. Further, superiors of moderately low performers were expected to anticipate a less pleasant reaction to feedback by superiors and to believe that their subordinates liked them less than superiors of moderately high performers. A 2–2 design was used with the factors feedback vs no feedback and moderately high vs moderately low subordinate performance. 168 college students served as superiors of a subordinate who was a confederate. Ss monitored and rated their subordinate's performance, then those in the feedback condition gave feedback at a time of their own choosing. All hypotheses were supported except the delay hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-540
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1979
Externally publishedYes


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