Feedback is the breakfast of champions: the significance of self-controlled formal feedback for autonomous task engagement

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Abstract

With the aim of examining the positive effect of the formal feedback mechanism itself beyond its informational aspect, we engaged participants in the stopwatch task and recorded their electroencephalogram throughout the experiment. This task requires a button press to stop the watch within a given time interval, the completion of which is simultaneously accompanied by adequate information on task performance. In the self-controlled feedback mode, participants could freely choose whether to request formal feedback after completing the task. In another mode, additional feedback was not provided. The ‘non-choice’ cue was found to elicit a more negative cue-elicited feedback negativity compared with ‘choice’, suggesting that the opportunity to solicit formal feedback was perceived as more desirable. In addition, a more enhanced stimulus-preceding negativity was observed prior to the task initiation cue in the self-controlled feedback condition, indicating that participants paid more sustained anticipatory attention during task preparation. Taken together, these electrophysiological results suggested an inherent reward within the formal feedback mechanism itself and the significance of self-controlled formal feedback for autonomous task engagement.

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