Psychologists have always been interested in the effect of encouragement on the efforts made by professional athletes and enthusiasts during training sessions. “The effects of positive and negative verbal feedback on repeated force production” is a study on the efficacy of augmented feedback. The “augmented feedback (AF) refers to information provided by external sources, such as coaches and devices, aiming to enhance motor learning and performance” (Halperin et al., 2020, p. 1). Establishing whether simultaneous encouragement influences the training efforts would help enhance training sessions.
The purpose of the study was to ascertain whether feedback during exercises has an impact on the results. Provided the existence of a correlation, the authors wanted to pinpoint what type of statements yield a better outcome. Thus, the hypothesis tested by the authors is that providing positive augmented feedback and negative augmented feedback influences “repeated maximal force production with the elbow flexors among resistance-trained subjects” (Halperin et al., 2020, p. 1). The potential confirmation of the hypothesis would suggest the inclusion of augmented feedback in training routines.
The researchers decided to test the subjects via verbal motivation. The feedback statements on the subjects’ performance executed the role of the independent variables, as they are the features of the study that are not changing. The repeated force production of the elbow flexors and EMG activity of subjects after doing the exercises was the dependant variables since the indicators of the testing equipment were based on the inclusion of feedback statements.
The experiment required its subjects to participate in three sessions, with two to eight days in between. A session consisted of a warm-up that took the form of five-minute cycling and was followed by contractions done by elbow flexors. The equipment analyzed maximal voluntary contraction, while the subjects received feedback on their output. During the sessions, a neutral female voice provided feedback statements. Positive AF was represented by phrases such as “great effort”, “excellent values”, “looking strong”, while “You’re not trying”, “Low values”, “You can do better” provided negative feedback (Halperin et al., 2020, p. 2). The authors attribute the choice of statements to their simplicity and common usage.
The main finding of the study is that negative feedback caused the subjects to deliver stronger contractions. The researchers explain the efficiency of negative feedback by the subjects’ anger that they feel after negative evaluations of their efforts. Therefore, the strength of the study lies in the simulation of a coach encouraging or critiquing a trainee. The subsequent implication is that instructors ought to verbally pressure their athletes to achieve better results.
The weaknesses of the study are represented by the tone of the provider of the feedback and the lack of sex consideration. Firstly, all statements were delivered in a neutral voice that had no emotional connotation, which puts the value of verbal encouragement at the question. Secondly, no distinctions were made between male and female participants, leaving the possibility of different perceptions of statements by men and women. However, neither of the drawbacks is critical to the overall outcome of the study.
Altogether, the study showed that providing feedback during exercises has a direct influence on the efforts made by trainees. Negative statements are more efficient in producing results because they activate the anger reaction. The possible application of this study is the inclusion of obligatory feedback during training sessions, whether they are handled by a coach, or regulated by a sports app. However, it is also possible that men react differently to verbal encouragement than women. Overall, the study confirmed its hypothesis of the augmented impact on the trainees’ results.
Halperin, I., Ramsay, E., Philpott, B., Obolski, U., & Behm, D. G. (2020). The effects of positive and negative verbal feedback on repeated force production. Physiology & Behavior, 225(113086), 1-5.