Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 407–423

Moral Feedback and Motivation: Revisiting the Undermining Effect


DOI: 10.1007/s10677-008-9116-8

Cite this article as:
Springer, E. Ethic Theory Moral Prac (2008) 11: 407. doi:10.1007/s10677-008-9116-8


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.


AnticonformityAutonomyBlameIntrinsic motivationMoral appraisalMoral communicationMoral criticismMoral feedbackMoral judgmentMoral motivationPraisePsychological reactanceUndermining effect

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentWesleyan UniversityMiddletownUSA