Differential effects of norm-referenced and self-referenced feedback on performance expectancies, attributions, and motivation


Journal Article

When feedback is provided to students in a norm-referenced manner that compares the individual's performance to that of others, people who perform poorly tend to attribute their failures to lack of ability, expect to perform poorly in the future, and demonstrate decreased motivation on subsequent tasks. The present study examined the hypothesis that the deleterious effects of failure might be attenuated when failure is expressed in self-referenced terms-relative to the individual's known level of ability as assessed by other measures. In this study, subjects received feedback indicating that they did well or poorly on an anagram test, and this feedback was described as either norm-referenced (comparing the individual's performance to that of others) or as self-referenced (comparing performance to other measures of the individual's ability). As predicted, compared to norm-referenced failure, self referenced feedback resulted in higher expectancies regarding future performance and increased attributions to effort. Contrary to expectations, attributions to ability were not affected. The implications of the results for the structure of academic feedback are discussed. © 1985.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McColskey, W; Leary, MR

Published Date

  • January 1, 1985

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 275 - 284

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1090-2384

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0361-476X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/0361-476X(85)90024-4

Citation Source

  • Scopus