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Moral Feedback and Motivation: Revisiting the Undermining Effect

Elise Springer
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Vol. 11, No. 4 (Aug., 2008), pp. 407-423
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40284252
Page Count: 17
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Moral Feedback and Motivation: Revisiting the Undermining Effect
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Abstract

Social psychologists have evidence that evaluative feedback on others' choices sometimes has unwelcome negative effects on hearers' motivation. Holroyd's article (Holroyd J. Ethical Theory Moral Pract 10:267-278, 2007) draws attention to one such result, the undermining effect, that should help to challenge moral philosophers' complacency about blame and praise. The cause for concern is actually greater than she indicates, both because there are multiple kinds of negative effect on hearer motivation, and because these are not, as she hopes, reliably counteracted by implicit features of praise and blame. The communicative ideal that she articulates does point us in the right direction, but it requires further elaboration. Once it is spelled out, we find that realizing this ideal, in light of the empirical research, requires rethinking the role of verdict-like judgments within moral feedback.

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