Article

Once Bitten, Twice Shy: The Effect of a Past Refusal on Expectations of Future Compliance

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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 dispositonal attributions of helpfulness to estimate the likelihood of hearing “yes” from someone who has previously told them “no.”

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... For example, studies have shown that people are more likely to seek feedback (van der Rijt et al., 2013;Vancouver & Morrison, 1995), information (Borgatti & Cross, 2003;Morrison & Vancouver, 2000;Nebus, 2006), and help (Hofmann et al., 2009) when they perceive the target to be more accessible. Conversely, when a target has rejected the seeker's request for help previously, the seeker is likely to perceive that the target is less accessible, and hence is less likely to seek help from that person in the future (Newark, Flynn, & Bohns, 2014). ...
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