Soften the pain, increase the gain: Enhancing users' resilience to negative valence feedback

Y. Wayne Wu, Brian P. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Content creators fear receiving unnecessarily harsh criticism when posting creative work in online platforms. We refer to feedback written in an unnecessary harsh tone as negative feedback. We conducted an online experiment to investigate the efficacy of three coping activities for mitigating the influence of negative feedback: Self-affirmation, expressive writing, and distraction. Participants (N=480) received feedback sets with different balances of neutral and negative valence content and revised their essays after performing the assigned activity. We measured participants' affective states, extents of revision, and their perceptions of the feedback and its providers. Our results showed even a small amount of negativity had significant adverse effects on all the measures. For the coping activities, we found that expressive writing encouraged essay revision, distraction improved affective states and feedback provider perception, and self-affirmation had no significant effects on the measures. Our results contribute further empirical knowledge of how negative valence feedback impacts content creators and how the coping activities tested mitigate these effects. We also offer practical guidelines regarding when and how to use the activities tested in online feedback platforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number186
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Crowdsourcing
  • Design feedback
  • Emotional coping.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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