Sex Roles

, Volume 21, Issue 11–12, pp 725–747 | Cite as

Sex differences in reactions to evaluative feedback

  • Tomi-Ann Roberts
  • Susan Nolen-Hoeksema


Two studies tested the influence of various types of verbal evaluative feedback men's and women's self-evaluations of their performance in achievenment situations. We tested a theory that women perceive evaluative feedback, particularly negative feedback, to be more informative about their abilities than do men. Because of this, women's self-assessments of their abilities are more straightforwardly influenced by evaluative feedback than are men's. In contrast, men take a more self-promotional approach to evaluative situations, and therefore are more selective in their responses to feedback. Results from our questionnaire study showed that women's self-evaluations were influenced by both positive and negative evaluative statements. Men allowed positive feedback to influence them more than negative feedback, and were less influenced overall by negative feedback than women. Furthermore, women reported that evaluative feedback, particularly negative feedback, contained more information relevant to their abilities than men. Our laboratory study showed that women's actual self-evaluations were impacted differently by positive and negative feedback, whereas men's were not. In addition, we found some evidence to indicate that women were more negatively influenced by feedback that was positively toned, yet irrelevant with respect to their performance, than men. This finding underscores the fact that the focus, and not just the valence, of evaluative feedback plays an important role in men's and women's responses to it.


Social Psychology Laboratory Study Positive Feedback Negative Feedback Questionnaire Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomi-Ann Roberts
    • 1
  • Susan Nolen-Hoeksema
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyStanford UniversityStanford

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