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Positive Feedback-Bias

German Research Foundation (DFG)-Project „Performance feedback to learners with a migration background: An indication of a positive feedback bias?“ (2019-2022)

Numerous studies have shown a negative bias in the assessment and evaluation of members of ethnic minorities in the USA. In Germany, recent studies also show a negative bias in the assessment of the performance of students of Turkish origin, even in experimental designs or when controlling for prior achievement.

In the studies investigating more negative expectations and judgments, however, the participants did not assume that their judgments would be given in a face-to-face setting or that they would be passed on to the persons being judged. In (imagined) face-to-face feedback situations, however, the available empirical evidence from the USA does not show a negative bias but, on the contrary, a positive bias. Various experimental studies on the "positive feedback bias" showed that in the USA personal feedback given to African
Americans is more positive and less critical than towards members of the majority. Until now, no corresponding studies from Germany were available.

In our research project, in various experimental studies we therefore tested the assumption that the "positive feedback bias" also occurs in a similar way in Germany when feedback givers without an immigrant background give personal feedback to learners with an immigrant background. Initial results supported this (Nishen & Kessels, 2022). Factors that influence the occurrence of positive feedback bias have also been investigated. When people have lower self-esteem, they tend to be more positive in their feedback to Turkish students than in their feedback to students of German origin (Nishen & Kessels, 2022).

Selected publications:

Nishen, A.K. & Kessels, U. (2022). Non-communicated judgments of, vs. feedback on, students’ essays: Is feedback inflation larger for students with a migration background? Social Psychology of Education, 25, 1-31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-021-09674-3

Kessels, U. & Nishen, A.K. (2022). Shifting Standards und positiver Feedback-Bias: Wenn negative Stereotype zu positiveren Urteilen führen [Shifting standards and The Positive Feedback Bias: When negative stereotypes lead to more positive judgments]. In S. Glock: Stereotype in der Schule II: Ursachen und Interventionen. Heidelberg: Springer.

Kessels. U. & Nishen, A.K. (2021). Positiver Feedback-Bias gegenüber Schülern und Schülerinnen mit Migrationshintergrund. Können negative Stereotype zu positiverem Feedback führen? [Positive Feedback Bias toward immigrant students. Can negative stereotypes lead to more positive feedback?]. Praxis Schulpsychologie, 29, 10.