The role of dispositional envy, state envy, and social comparisons in predicting learning outcomes

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Learning and Motivation


Limited studies to date have investigated how objectively assessed learning outcomes are associated with dispositional malicious and benign envy, together with state malicious and benign envy. The current experimental study modeled an online learning environment. Participants (N = 120) received one of three types of visual feedback showing their progress throughout learning task. The feedback showed varying upward social comparison information, or lack thereof, to arouse state malicious and benign envy. The findings revealed that dispositional malicious and benign envy had direct effects on learning outcomes. State malicious envy, however, had no effect on learning, and state benign envy did not pass the manipulation check. The social comparison with an attainable standard requiring less effort had a total effect on learning outcomes but no indirect effect, implying that there were potentially unmeasured factors (e.g., affective or motivational) arising from the intervention. The study offers a unique contribution to the literature with rare empirical evidence supporting the association between dispositional envy (malicious and benign) and objectively assessed cognitive performance. The study also suggests practical guidelines to facilitate constructive social comparison effects, while limiting the potential of envy or other affective or motivational consequences that may impinge upon learning.


Professional Learning and Innovation

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