An Investigation into the Process of Receiving Personality Feedback and Recipients' Reactions to the Feedback

Date of Completion

January 2011


Psychology, Personality




While the use of personality measures is extensive within organizations, very little research has been conducted on the actual feedback provided to recipients. Study 1 represented the first study to explore how personality feedback is processed by recipients and to investigate recipients' reactions to three common versions of personality feedback. The general purposes of Study 1 were to: (1) create a basic understanding of processing personality feedback; (2) examine the psychological and affective reactions of recipients; and (3) explore the impact of differences in personality traits (the Big Five). In Study 1, 132 undergraduates received written feedback describing their personality. One third of these participants also received supplemental oral feedback, whereas another third received supplemental written prescriptive feedback about how to overcome weaknesses associated with their personality profile. ^ Study 1 provided compelling evidence for the beginning stages of a model for processing personality feedback. There was considerable evidence of a partially mediated model consisting of favorability, accuracy, usefulness, and intentions. This model was based on key concepts relating to personality feedback derived from Ilgen, Fisher, and Taylor's (1979) model of processing performance feedback. ^ Generally, it was also found that providing supplemental oral or prescriptive feedback was markedly influential. The addition of oral feedback increased perceptions of accuracy, usefulness, and positive affect. The addition of prescriptive feedback increased participants' intentions to use the feedback immediately and longer-term. Personality feedback also had an impact on both recipients' positive and negative affect. Finally, personality traits did not moderate the effects of including either oral or prescriptive feedback. ^ In explicit comparisons, Study 2 showed that prescriptive feedback was viewed as more accurate and useful than descriptive feedback. Participants also reported greater intentions to use the prescriptive feedback. These findings suggest that it may be highly beneficial to add prescriptive statements to existing reports. Prescriptive statements should reflect a positive tone, while maintaining a clear and targeted message of how and why behavioral changes are beneficial in the long-term. Lastly, future research should explore differences in perceptions of personality feedback across participants of various age groups, environments (e.g., corporate settings), and levels of work experience. ^