What is it about?

We reveal a misprediction whereby rejecters overestimate the negative consequences they will face from refusal. This overestimation may be due to rejecters’ worryful thinking. Specifically, rejecters are worried that rejectees might cause harm to them (e.g., spreading negative information of rejecters) in the future. Therefore, rejecters tend to exaggerate the severity of what rejectees will do to them, perhaps to minimize the influence of these expected negative consequences. When rejectees are less likely to act unfriendly toward rejecters, rejecters can predict the outcomes of refusal more accurately.

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Why is it important?

Many people avoid refusing others even when faced with excessive requests that they cannot accommodate. However, due to constraints on time, energy, and ability, making commitments unwillingly can hinder responders’ priorities and hurt their well-being. Our findings suggest one reason for the tendency to avoid refusing requests is that rejecters overestimate the negative consequences they will face from refusal. Understanding this misprediction will encourage people to refuse the requesters they cannot accommodate and reduce the detrimental influences of avoiding saying “no.”

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This page is a summary of: Rejecters overestimate the negative consequences they will face from refusal., Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied, October 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/xap0000457.
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