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Abstract

This article approaches the topic of improvement from a self-evaluation perspective, namely the interplay between the self-improvement motive and social or evaluative feedback. The self-improvement motive is reflected in conscious desire. It is also reflected in preferences for continuous upward feedback trajectories, upward comparison feedback, and feedback that may be self-threatening in the present but is likely to be useful in the future. The last type of feedback preference is stronger following a resource-bolstering experience (e.g., good mood, success feedback, self-affirmation). Moreover, both direct and indirect activation of the self-improvement motive facilitates recall of improvement-oriented feedback. Such feedback is associated with increased satisfaction or positive affect, a pattern qualified by individual differences (e.g., self-esteem, self-theories). Finally, improvement-oriented feedback yields better performance, a pattern also qualified by individual differences (e.g., self-enhancement, self-appraisal) as well as feedback attributes (gradual versus sudden). This territory-mapping review will hopefully prove useful to future theorizing and research.