A memory advantage for past-oriented over future-oriented performance feedback

Nash, RA, Winstone, NE, Gregory, SEA ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2601-2873 and Papps, E 2018, 'A memory advantage for past-oriented over future-oriented performance feedback' , Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44 (12) , pp. 1864-1879.

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Access Information: © 2018 American Psychological Association. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/xlm0000549


People frequently receive performance feedback that describes how well they achieved in the past, and how they could improve in future. In educational contexts, future-oriented (directive) feedback is often argued to be more valuable to learners than past-oriented (evaluative) feedback; critically, prior research led us to predict that it should also be better remembered. We tested this prediction in six experiments. Subjects read written feedback containing evaluative and directive comments, which supposedly related to essays they had previously written (Experiments 1–2), or to essays another person had written (Experiments 3–6). Subjects then tried to reproduce the feedback from memory after a short delay. In all six experiments, the data strongly revealed the opposite effect to the one we predicted: despite only small differences in wording, evaluative feedback was in fact recalled consistently better than directive feedback. Furthermore, even when adult subjects did recall directive feedback, they frequently misremembered it in an evaluative style. These findings appear at odds with the position that being oriented toward the future is advantageous to memory. They also raise important questions about the possible behavioral effects and generalizability of such biases, in terms of students’ academic performance.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 0022-1015
Related URLs:
Funders: Leverhulme Trust, Higher Education Academy
Depositing User: Dr Samantha Gregory
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2021 12:43
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2021 12:45
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/62169

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