Effects of positive and negative social feedback on motivation, evaluative learning, and socio-emotional processing


Social rewards and punishments are strong motivators. Since experimental work has focused on young adults using simplistic feedback, the effects of more naturalistic stimuli on motivation, evaluative learning, and socio-emotional processing with advanced age remain unclear. Therefore, we compared the effects of static (photos) vs dynamic (videos) social feedback in a social incentive delay (SID) task in young (18-35 years) and older adults (50-84 years) with neutral, positive, and negative feedback, on response times (RTs), and assessed the emotional valence of feedback cues and feedback videos. We found that anticipating positive and negative social feedback accelerated RTs regardless of age and without additional effects of video feedback. Furthermore, the results suggest a valence transfer from positive feedback videos to predictive cues in both groups (i.e., evaluative learning). Finally, older adults reported less pronounced negative affect for negative feedback videos, indicating age differences in socio-emotional processing. As such, our findings foster our understanding of the underlying cognitive and emotional aspects involved in the processing of social rewards and punishments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Journalnpj Science of Learning
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)28
Publication statusPublished - 16.08.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 110-05 Differential, Clinical and Medical Psychology, Methodology

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