Articles

Once bitten, twice shy: The effect of a past refusal on expectations of future compliance

D. NEWARK, F. J. FLYNN, V. K. BOHNS

Social Psychological and Personality Science

March 2014, vol. 5, n°2, pp.218-225

Departments: Management & Human Resources

Keywords: compliance, helping behavior, sequential requests, perspective taking

http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/06/04/1948550613490967.abstract


Four studies examined help-seekers’ beliefs about how past refusals affect future compliance. In Study 1, help-seekers were more likely than potential helpers to believe that a previous refusal would lead a potential helper to deny a subsequent request of similar size. Study 2 replicated this effect and found that help-seekers underestimated the actual compliance rate of potential helpers who had previously refused to help. Studies 3 and 4 explain this asymmetry. Whereas potential helpers’ willingness to comply with a subsequent request stems from the discomfort of rejecting others not once, but twice, help-seekers rely on dispositional attributions of helpfulness to estimate the likelihood of hearing “yes” from someone who has previously told them “no.”


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