Effects of performance feedback valence on perceptions of invested mental effort
We investigated whether the valence of performance feedback provided after a task, would affect participants’ perceptions of how much mental effort they invested in that same task. In three experiments, we presented participants with problem-solving tasks and manipulated the presence and valence of feedback between conditions (no, positive, or negative feedback valence), prior to asking them to rate how much mental effort they invested in solving that problem. Across the three experimentsewith different problem-solving tasks and participant populationsewe found that subjective ratings of effort investment were significantly higher after negative than after positive feedback; ratings given without feedback fell in between. These findings show that feedback valence alters perceived effort investment (possibly via task perceptions or affect), which can be problematic when effort is measured as an indicator of cognitive load. Therefore, it seems advisable to measure mental effort directly after each task, before giving feedback on performance.