A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY: ANGER EXPRESSION DURING TECHNOLOGY-MEDIATED PERFORMANCE FEEDBACK

Open Access
Author:
Teague, Sarah Elizabeth
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 02, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Alicia Grandey, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • anger
  • emotions
  • feedback
  • creative performance
Abstract:
Emotions have been found to convey information that helps individuals make sense of and manipulate their environment. One example that is relevant to the workplace can be seen in feedback interventions. According to the social functional perspective, emotions expressed by the feedback provider are likely to add to a recipient’s understanding of the feedback message. The Emotions as Social Information (EASI) model is consistent with this perspective and states that expressed emotions influence observer behavior through two pathways: performance inferences and affective reactions (e.g. liking of the feedback provider). Recent work with the EASI model suggests that angry feedback can have beneficial effects on performance, and the current study expands these findings by investigating whether technology-mediated communication influences how recipients respond to angry feedback. Drawing on media richness theory, I proposed that angry feedback would be perceived as more intense in richer media and that this would have an indirect effect on individuals’ behavior on subsequent task performance through effect of the two EASI pathways. Participants were assigned to one of three computer—mediated angry feedback conditions (i.e., video, audio, text) in response to a divergent thinking task, then were asked to complete a variation of the same task. Media richness in technology-mediated communication modalities was found to act as a catalyst, where richer media increased the perceived intensity of expressed emotions. In general, these differences in perceived intensity of groups manifested in differences across groups for the EASI mechanisms, in that participants in the richer media conditions reported lower performance inferences and less liking of the feedback provider, as well as greater felt anger and anxiety. However, analyses for the indirect effect of intensity of anger on subsequent performance through the EASI pathways were largely unsupportive. Trending results suggest that liking has a non-linear (inverted-U) effect on originality, such that participants who reported moderate levels of liking generated more original responses to the task. Follow-up exploratory analyses were conducted in an attempt to clarify the findings. Results for these analyses, as well as implications for theory and research are discussed.