Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 687–699 | Cite as

Anger and attitudinal reactions to negative feedback: The effects of emotional instability and power

  • Jana NiemannEmail author
  • Barbara Wisse
  • Diana Rus
  • Nico W. Van Yperen
  • Kai Sassenberg
Original Paper


Feedback is a basic tool that is used to stimulate learning and performance at all organizational levels. However, negative feedback can sometimes evoke defensive responses such as feelings of anger or the repudiation of the feedback. In two experiments we explored whether people’s negating responses to feedback are grounded in their emotional instability, and if this effect is stronger for those who hold more power. The findings from Study 1 (N = 84) showed that in response to negative feedback more emotionally unstable individuals experienced more anger. In Study 2 (N = 47) we indicated that anger mediated the negative effects of emotional instability and power on liking of the feedback provider, perceived ability of the feedback provider, and feedback acceptance. Our findings indicate that power strengthens the influence of emotional instability on responses to negative feedback and point to the importance of anger as the underlying factor influencing crucial attitudinal feedback reactions.


Power Emotional instability Anger Feedback 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jana Niemann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Barbara Wisse
    • 1
  • Diana Rus
    • 3
  • Nico W. Van Yperen
    • 1
  • Kai Sassenberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Organizational PsychologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Knowledge Media Research CenterEberhard Karls University TuebingenTuebingenGermany
  3. 3.Creative PeasAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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