Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “When Is a Negative a Positive?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)
So when is a negative a positive? When the negative is feedback. We focus on a clever research project by Ayelet Fishbach of the University of Chicago and Stacey Finkelstein at Columbia. It argues that positive feedback certainly has its role -- especially when someone isn't yet fully invested in a new project or job -- but if it's improvement you're after, then going negative is where it's at:
FISHBACH: The more a person is committed to a goal -- and by that I mean the more someone thinks that they absolutely have to do it, they like doing it, it’s important for them to do it -- the more negative compared with positive feedback will be efficient.