Let another praise you? The effects of source and attributional content on responses to group-directed praise


Anna Rabinovich, School of Psychology, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QG, UK (e-mail: a.rabinovich@exeter.ac.uk).


Not all types of praise may be equally stimulating. Instead, positive feedback carries different meaning depending on the source that delivers it and the attributions for success that it contains. In the present study, source (in-group vs. out-group) of praise and its content (attributing success to internal vs. external causes) were experimentally manipulated. The results revealed that there was a significant interaction between source and content of praise on performance in a praise-related task. As predicted, participants exposed to out-group praise were motivated by external attributions for success rather than by internal attributions. Conversely, when praise originated from an in-group source, the attributional content of praise did not affect performance. This effect of source and content of praise on relevant behaviour was mediated by willingness to protect group image. Thus, responses to praise are contingent on what it implies about group success – corresponding to patterns demonstrated in previous work on group-directed criticism.