Original Paper

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 497-507

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Children’s Feedback Preferences in Response to an Experimentally Manipulated Peer Evaluation Outcome: The Role of Depressive Symptoms

  • Albert ReijntjesAffiliated withUtrecht UniversityDepartment of Psychosocial Development in Context, Utrecht University Email author 
  • , Maja DekovicAffiliated withUtrecht University
  • , Marjolijn VermandeAffiliated withUtrecht University
  • , Michael J. TelchAffiliated withUniversity of Texas at Austin


The present study examined the linkage between pre-adolescent children’s depressive symptoms and their preferences for receiving positive vs. negative feedback subsequent to being faced with an experimentally manipulated peer evaluation outcome in real time. Participants (n = 142) ages 10 to 13, played a computer contest based on the television show Survivor and were randomized to either a peer rejection (i.e., receiving the lowest total ‘likeability’ score from a group of peer-judges), a peer success (i.e., receiving the highest score), or a control peer evaluation condition. Children’s self-reported feedback preferences were then assessed. Results revealed that participants assigned to the negative evaluation outcome, relative to either the success or the control outcome, showed a significantly higher subsequent preference for negatively tuned feedback. Contrary to previous work and predictions derived from self-verification theory, children higher in depressive symptoms were only more likely to prefer negative feedback in response to the negative peer evaluation outcome. These effects for depression were not accounted for by either state mood at baseline or mood change in response to the feedback manipulation.


Peers Feedback preferences Pre-adolescent children Depressive symptoms Sociometric status