Falling on deaf ears: The effects of sender identity and feedback dimension on how people process and respond to negative feedback − An ERP study

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Abstract

Social contexts can affect how people respond to feedback from others. We investigated how context information modulates the cognitive processing of feedback messages (i.e., external evaluations of one's character). We manipulated two aspects of (positive and negative) feedback messages: The identity of the sender (ingroup vs. outgroup member), and the dimension (one's competence vs. morality) as focal concern addressed in the feedback. We measured affective and behavioral responses after participants received such feedback (Study 1, N = 194), and additionally recorded an EEG in Study 2 (N = 49). In both studies, participants reported being more emotionally affected by negative feedback from ingroup compared to outgroup senders. Participants in Study 1 also reported to perceive feedback on their morality (vs. competence) as more negative. Complementing these findings, ERP results of Study 2 revealed greater preferential processing (i.e., increased P200) of feedback messages delivered by ingroup rather than outgroup members. Additionally, participants paid less sustained attention to feedback on their morality (vs. competence, as indicated by decreased P300- and LPP-amplitudes), and afterward recalled less morality- (vs. competence-) related feedback messages. The ERP findings were more pronounced for negative compared to positive feedback. These results suggest that subtle cues such as the social group-membership of a sender or the dimension addressed in a feedback message can modulate the cognitive processing of that message. Furthermore, our findings may explain why people are inclined to disregard negative feedback from outgroup senders and on their moral character.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104419
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume104
Early online date2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Feedback
  • ERP
  • Morality
  • Affective responses

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