The role of perceived control in overcoming defensive self-evaluation

Yaacov Trope, Ben Gervey, Niall Bolger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two experiments investigated how perceived control over one's abilities and one's perceived standing on these abilities affect feedback seeking. Two aspects of perceived control were studied: Experiment 1 focused on perceived control over the expression of one's ability in performance, whereas Experiment 2 focused on perceived changeability of the ability itself. The results of the two experiments showed that to the extent that participants' perceived ability was low, both aspects of perceived control increased interest in negative feedback - feedback that diagnoses weaknesses - and decreased interest in positive feedback - feedback that diagnoses strengths. Mediation analyses showed that the effects of perceived ability and perceived control on feedback seeking were mediated by the subjective informational value of the feedback as well as its esteem-related affective value. These results were interpreted as evidence for pragmatic feedback seeking - a process that flexibly integrates immediate emotional value and long-term usefulness of self-relevant information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-419
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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