Moral feedback and motivation: Revisiting the undermining effect [Book Review]

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (4):407 - 423 (2008)
Abstract
Social psychologists have evidence that evaluative feedback on others’ choices sometimes has unwelcome negative effects on hearers’ motivation. Holroyd’s article (Holroyd J. Ethical Theory Moral Pract 10:267–278, 2007) draws attention to one such result, the undermining effect, that should help to challenge moral philosophers’ complacency about blame and praise. The cause for concern is actually greater than she indicates, both because there are multiple kinds of negative effect on hearer motivation, and because these are not, as she hopes, reliably counteracted by implicit features of praise and blame. The communicative ideal that she articulates does point us in the right direction, but it requires further elaboration. Once it is spelled out, we find that realizing this ideal, in light of the empirical research, requires rethinking the role of verdict-like judgments within moral feedback.
Keywords Anticonformity  Autonomy  Blame  Intrinsic motivation  Moral appraisal  Moral communication  Moral criticism  Moral feedback  Moral judgment  Moral motivation  Praise  Psychological reactance  Undermining effect
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