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Effects of performance feedback valence on perceptions of invested mental effort

, Department of Education ; , , , Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies ; , Department of Education

Learning and Instruction Volume 51, Number 1, ISSN 0959-4752 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


We investigated whether the valence of performance feedback provided after a task, would affect participants’ perceptions of how much mental effort they invested in that same task. In three experiments, we presented participants with problem-solving tasks and manipulated the presence and valence of feedback between conditions (no, positive, or negative feedback valence), prior to asking them to rate how much mental effort they invested in solving that problem. Across the three experiments–with different problem-solving tasks and participant populations–we found that subjective ratings of effort investment were significantly higher after negative than after positive feedback; ratings given without feedback fell in between. These findings show that feedback valence alters perceived effort investment (possibly via task perceptions or affect), which can be problematic when effort is measured as an indicator of cognitive load. Therefore, it seems advisable to measure mental effort directly after each task, before giving feedback on performance.


Raaijmakers, S.F., Baars, M., Schaap, L., Paas, F. & van Gog, T. (2017). Effects of performance feedback valence on perceptions of invested mental effort. Learning and Instruction, 51(1), 36-46. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved October 19, 2019 from .

This record was imported from Learning and Instruction on January 29, 2019. Learning and Instruction is a publication of Elsevier.

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