Tell Me What I Did Wrong: Experts Seek and Respond to Negative Feedback

by Stacey R. Finkelstein and Ayelet Fishbach


Abstract: A large proportion of marketing communication concerns feedback to consumers. This article explores what feedback people seek and respond to. We predict and find a shift from positive to negative feedback as people gain expertise. We document this shift in a variety of domains, including feedback on language acquisition, pursuit of environmental causes, and use of consumer products. Across these domains, novices sought and responded to positive feedback, and experts sought and responded to negative feedback. We examine a motivational account for the shift in feedback: positive feedback increased novices’ commitment, and negative feedback increased experts’ sense that they were making insufficient progress.

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