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Sex And Age Differences In Response To Informational And Controlling Feedback

Audrey Kast, Kathleen Connor

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This study examined two issues ensuing from cognitive evaluation theory (Deci, 1975; Deci & Ryan, 1980, 1985), through the manipulation of positive feedback to third, fifth, and eighth grade children. Analysis of self-reported interest revealed that, as predicted, controlling feedback significantly lowered interest relative to informational -and no-feedback groups. The hypothesis that informational feedback would raise interest levels relative to the no-feedback group was not supported, perhaps due to a ceiling effect. These results replicate and extend previous findings with adults to children in a classroom context. A mixed-feedback condition, containing components of both information and control, yielded sex differences. As predicted, in the mixed condition, females reported interest levels significantly lower than those reported by males in that condition and by females in the informational -and no-feedback conditions. Although interest declined across grade level, the decline was greatest in the mixed condition, between fifth and eighth grades.