Task information, cognitive information, or functional validity information: Which components of cognitive feedback affect performance?

William K. Balzer, Lorne M. Sulsky, Leslie B. Hammer, Kenneth E. Sumner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


A recent review by Balzer, Doherty, and O'Connor (1989) decomposed cognitive feedback (CFB) into three conceptually distinct components: information about the task system (task information, TI), information about the subject's cognitive system (cognitive information, CI), and information about the relationship of the task system to the cognitive system (functional validity information, FVI). Their review suggested that the TI component of CFB appeared to be the component responsible for improvements in performance on multiple cue probability learning (MCPL) tasks. A laboratory experiment was designed to test whether different combinations of CFB components lead to different levels of performance. Undergraduates (N = 133) were randomly assigned to one of five CFB conditions (TI only, CI only, TI + CI, TI + CI + FVI, or no feedback (NF)). Subjects completed a MCPL task, predicting number of wins for major league baseball teams. Subjects returned a week later, received the CFB appropriate for their experimental condition, and repeated the judgment task. Traditional measures of performance on MCPL tasks (e.g., ra) were collected, along with measures of the accuracy of predictions and self-report measures of the understandability and helpfulness of feedback. Results indicated that subjects who received TI (i.e., TI, TI + CI, or TI + CI + FVI feedback conditions) showed significantly better performance than subjects who received no feedback as indicated by validity and accuracy measures of performance. In no instance did the CI condition show better performance the the NF condition, nor did the TI + CI or TI + CI + FVI conditions show better performance then the TI condition. No differences were found in subjects' self-reported reactions to CFB. Overall, TI was found to be the CFB component that improved the validity and accuracy of judgement performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-54
Number of pages20
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1992


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