As the end-of-year holidays approach, many feel obliged to go to all the parties they are invited to. But rest assured: a study says that declining an invitation has far fewer consequences than you might imagine.
The consequences of a refusal are often overestimated
An American research team came to this conclusion after conducting five experiments with more than 2,000 participants. The first involved some 382 participants, divided into two groups. The members of the first group had to slip into the shoes of a fictitious person, who was invited to the inauguration of an art exhibition. They had to come up with a polite way to decline this offer, due to their tired state. It is important to note that some participants were informed that they were the only ones who had been invited to this exhibition, while others were informed that several invitation cards had been sent. For their part, the members of the second group had to take on the role of host of the evening.
The researchers evaluated the reactions of all participants to determine whether declining an invitation is always perceived negatively. It turns out that’s not the case. Hosts are much less offended than one might think when their invitation is not honored. “Guests overestimate the negative consequences that their refusal to respond positively to an invitation can have in the eyes of their hosts. Guests worry excessively about the anger their refusal will arouse in the inviter, the fact that the inviter will lose interest in their fate, the likelihood that the inviter will extend an invitation again in the future, etc.“, we can read in the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Not all “no’s” are equal
In other words, we tend to overestimate the real ramifications of our refusal to honor an invitation. Not being able to attend a birthday party or your colleague’s Christmas party will not necessarily be seen as a form of social rejection. “Although you may feel like the person inviting you will only take into account the fact that you declined, it’s likely that they will take into account many other things, which means that the negative fallout is less. serious than you think“, explain the researchers.
Although the conclusions of this study will certainly relieve more than one person of guilt, we must nevertheless be careful in the way we decline an invitation. An article, published in 2021 in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, shows that the type of reason given by the guest plays an important role in how the host perceives their refusal. So, it is better to say that you cannot go to the event he is organizing due to lack of money, rather than due to lack of time. The reason ? Lack of money is seen as a reason beyond our control, unlike a busy schedule. Keep this in mind if you decide to sort through your end-of-year invitations.