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Rogers' Five Feedback Types


Techniques > Conversation techniques > Reflecting > Rogers' Five Feedback Types

Evaluative | Interpretive | Supportive | Probing | Understanding | See also


Humanist Carl Rogers listed five types of feedback. The sequence is important: they are given in order of frequency of use (which is not necessarily the same order of effectiveness):


Evaluative feedback makes a judgment about the other person, evaluating worth or goodness. There is a big difference between judging a person and their actions.

A personal evaluation judges the whole person and implies that this is a personal and unchangeable attribute. Negative personal evaluation can be very uncomfortable for the other person. Positive personal evaluation, on the other hand, is very flattering.

You are not a very nice person.
You are a lovely person.

Behavioral evaluation judges the action, but not the person. This makes negative evaluation easier for the other person to accept.

That was not a very nice thing to do.


In interpretive evaluation, you seek to test your understanding of what has been said by interpreting and paraphrasing back to the other person what you think has been said. This is typically followed by a question to allow the other person to agree with your interpretation or offer a correction.

So you are interested in joining the club -- is this right?

Understanding is not perfect and testing understanding is generally a very good thing to do. It is generally flattering too, as you are showing active interest in what they are saying.


In supportive evaluation, you seek to support the other person in some way.

In flattery, you support the other person's ego by telling them they are good in some way (whether or not this is true).

That was truly awesome! Can you sing it again, please?

You look wonderful!

With developmental supportive feedback, you seek to help the other person change in some way. This is not always easy, as some criticism may be involved.

Your singing is improving. You could try recording it and listening to the opening few notes.

Hmm. I think the red dress suits you better.

Supportive feedback can be reversed with the deliberate purpose of damaging the other person's ego in a personal attack:

That was awful! You should give up singing.

You look dreadful.


Probing seeks to find more information by asking deeper questions that seek specific information. See probing questions for more details.

Could you tell me more about what happened? ... What happened next? ... What size was it? ... Why do you think that happened?


At the 'understanding' level, you are seeking to understand not just what was said, but the whole person underneath. This asks questions not only shows that you are listening to the inner person, but also that you truly understand.

It sounds like you have personal experience of this. Would you like to talk about it?

See also

Listening, Questioning techniques

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