Is “rejected” feedback really rejected?: Effects of informativeness on reactions to positive and negative personality feedback


  • The autbors gratefully acknowledge tbe contributions to the present study of Janet R. Endelman, Raymond L. Higgins, B. Kent Houston, Rick E. Ingram, Ghuck Price, Stephen G. West, Susan Whitely, and two anonymous reviewers.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Mitchell M. Handelsman, Department of Psychology and Gounselor Education, Gentral Missouri State University, Warrensburg, Missouri 64093.


Forty-eight undergraduate males completed a psychological test and were told one of two things regarding their test-taking behavior. In one condition, people were led to believe that they had been revealing in their responses (the informative condition); in the other condition, people were given no information about how revealing they had been (the noinformative condition). They were then given a positive or negative personality interpretation concerning assertiveness. The impact of this feedback was measured by feedback recipients’ (a) accuracy and acceptance ratings; (b) recall; and (c) self-descriptive statements in a purportedly independent setting. Positive feedback was rated as more accurate and accepted more than was negative feedback. For subjects who were told that they had been informative, negative feedback tended to be recalled more than was positive feedback. In a purportedly independent experiment, subjects completed questionnaires containing items about their assertiveness. Under the informative condition only, subjects who had received negative feedback rated themselves less favorably than did subjects who had received positive feedback. A possible theoretical reason for the informativeness results is discussed, and implications are drawn for the clinical setting.