Defense Date

Summer 7-1-2016

Degree Type





Business Administration

Chair or Co-Chair

Dr. Neal P. Mero

Committee Member or Co-Chair

Dr. Robin A. Cheramie


Dr. Steve Werner


Performance feedback is an integral aspect of facilitating employee learning. Despite its importance, research suggests that when that feedback conveys a performance discrepancy, subsequent performance does not improve. Researchers have advanced reflection as a strategy for increasing feedback effectiveness and have established its value for learning and performance improvement. However, these studies have not accounted for the effects of specific types of reflection on performance. To this point, the current research examines the role of one form of reflection, counterfactual thinking, for learning after performance discrepancies. I explored boundary conditions that might influence self-focused upward counterfactual thinking—a form of reflection particularly important for learning and performance improvement—and examined whether and when such thinking influences the relationship between a baseline performance discrepancy and subsequent performance. To investigate these issues, I designed, developed, and validated a computer simulated leadership skills task and administered it to graduate and undergraduate students (N= 169) in a web-based research setting. I tested the proposed relationships using conditional process analysis. The results of this study demonstrated that when individuals encounter performance discrepancies they might attempt to reconcile such through self-focused upward counterfactual thinking. This research represents a step toward an improved understanding of reflection, performance discrepancy feedback processing, and subsequent performance effects.