Studies in Personnel and Industrial Psychology

By Edwin A. Fleishman | Go to book overview

quence. Some of the improvement, however, may come from feedback which our experimental barriers failed to block out; feedback in the form of noises, sighs, shuffling of chairs. We do not know from these experiments whether or not an instructor using zero feedback could eventually reach the free feedback level of accuracy and confidence, but it is clear that under our experimental conditions he' can improve over his own original zero feedback level.

Besides the findings about the direct effects of feedback, the data raise some questions about indirect effects. We observed in both experiments that free feedback after zero feedback is accompanied by hostility. This hostility was apparently an effect of the zero feedback experience. It lasts only through one or two free feedback trials. Why should this be so? We believe that the mechanism centers around the notion of "certainty." In our attempts to satisfy our needs we must be as certain as possible that we are successful. Uncertainty is frustrating. Without feedback uncertainty is prevalent.

In the same vein we noted that instructors' confidence is lower than students' confidence. We suggest that the instructor can be satisfied only by knowing that the receiver is getting the proper information. But the receiver can be satisfied by comparing his own work with the sender's directions. The receiver then has more information available against which to check his own progress toward his goal. Hence he can be more certain of his progress. But the sender is not sure of what the receiver is receiving. He can get some information with feedback, but almost none but his own empathy without feedback. Hence his certainty and confidence are low. These differential feelings of certainty, adequacy, and hostility seem to us to be the most significant differentials between our free feedback and zero feedback systems.


Summary and Conclusions

Since the scope of this research has been limited by the utilization of one kind of problem, one kind of sender-receiver situation, and a relatively short series of experiences, our conclusions must be severely circumscribed.

To summarize, we found that, within narrow limits: 1. a completion of the circuit between sender and receiver (feedback) increases the accuracy with which information is transmitted. 2. Feedback also increases receiver and sender confidence in what they have accomplished. 3. The cost of feedback is time. But the difference in time between free feedback and zero feedback appears to decrease. 4. A sender and a receiver can improve without what we have defined as feedback experience. 5. Free feedback experience improves subsequent zero feedback trials measurably. 6. Sender experience contributes more than receiver experience to improved accuracy of communication. 7. Zero feedback engenders some hostility in the receiver that becomes clearly percepti-

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