Anticipation of feedback motivates performance

Recent research suggests that we can be motivated by the notion of receiving feedback quickly after performing a task. Two Canadian researchers ran an experiment where students giving a presentation were told in advance when their work would be evaluated – a randomly assigned delay ranging from 0 – 17 days. The results?

“Students who were told they would receive feedback quickly on their performance earned higher grades than students who expected feedback at a later time. Furthermore, when students expected to receive their grades quickly, they predicted that their performance would be worse than students who were to receive feedback later. This pattern suggests that anticipating rapid feedback may improve performance because the threat of disappointment is more prominent.”

Potential implications?

  • Consider setting the norm of giving your team members feedback immediately after important tasks, rather than waiting for weekly 1:1s or quarterly performance reviews.
  • If stakes are suitably large (ie user needs to care about the outcome), tight feedback loops in consumer web experiences are desirable.

One thought on “Anticipation of feedback motivates performance

  1. i've been wondering a lot about this on a smaller scale… for instance, even for things like badges or rewards, better for immediate anticipation or surprised delight? what's the better motivator?

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