In this work we suggest that trait observability is an important predictor of what kind of feedback will be incorporated into self-knowledge. In two studies we find evidence that feedback about ones own observable traits, referencing social or physical characteristics, becomes incorporated into self-knowledge. In our work, feedback on less observable traits, referencing internal states or competency, was not incorporated into self-knowledge. This pattern holds for both positive and negative feedback, regardless of whether the feedback is explicitly or implicitly provided. Importantly, this pattern holds when we both controlled for how consensual the feedback was, and when we allowed feedback consensuality to vary naturally. Our work suggests that trait observability is an important dimension in understanding what feedback is likely to be incorporated into self-knowledge.
Suppes, Alexandra, and Sheena Iyengar. "What can a looking glass reflect? Trait observability predicts what feedback is incorporated into self-knowledge." Columbia Business School Research Paper Series, January 10, 2011.
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