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Recent studies indicate that it is acceptable to decline an invitation to an event if you do not wish to attend.
Based on the results, declining an invitation may not have the expected repercussions for those who are feeling overwhelmed by their obligations and responsibilities during this time of year.
While some may see it as impolite, professionals advise that individuals frequently overestimate the negative effects of declining.
Julian Givi, an assistant professor at West Virginia University in the United States, stated that he was once invited to an event he had no interest in attending. Despite this, he still went because he was worried about disappointing the person who invited him, and it seems like this is a common occurrence.
According to our findings, the consequences of refusing are not as serious as we anticipate.
The majority (77%) of participants in the research reported accepting an event invitation despite not wanting to go due to concerns about the potential consequences of declining.
A team of researchers performed five studies, involving over 2,000 individuals, to explore the validity of these concerns.
During a study, participants were presented with a situation where they were either the host or guest of one of their friends for a Saturday night dinner at a nearby restaurant featuring a famous chef.
The invitees were instructed to envision declining due to prior commitments and the desire to have a relaxing evening at home.
The individuals who were instructed to envision extending the invitation were informed of the reason for their friend’s rejection.
The research discovered that individuals who envisioned rejecting their friend’s invitation often thought it would result in immediate negative consequences for their relationship.
Those who imagined being rejected were more inclined to predict that their friend would experience anger, disappointment, and would be less likely to invite them to future events compared to those who rated themselves as being rejected.
Based on the results, this could be due to the fact that individuals who declined the invitation were more prone to believe that their friend would concentrate on the rejection itself rather than the thought process that led to their decline.
According to Dr. Givi, our experiments consistently showed that invitees tend to overestimate the negative consequences that inviters face when they decline an invitation.
Many individuals tend to overemphasize how much the inviter will pay attention to the invitee’s decision to decline the invitation, rather than the thoughts that led to the decline.
In a separate study, 160 individuals were enlisted to participate in a “couples survey” alongside their partner.
Out of the participating couples, 4% had been in a relationship for less than six months, 1% for six to 12 months, 21% for one to five years, and 74% for more than five years.
The couple decided that one person would step out of the room while the other penned an invitation for an activity they wanted to partake in within the upcoming weeks.
Upon receiving the invitation, the individual who declined was requested to compose a response expressing a desire to simply unwind at home.
The research concluded that regardless of the duration of the relationship, the person who declined the invitation tended to perceive their partner as being angrier or feeling less cared for than they actually were.
The researchers discovered that individuals tend to overestimate the level of upset someone will experience when declining an invitation, despite having a long-standing and close relationship.
Dr. Givi stated that although there have been instances where they have felt disappointed by someone declining an invitation, their research suggests that people tend to overestimate the negative impact on their relationships.
He suggested that declining invitations can be beneficial in preventing burnout. Doing so may not have the drastic consequences that people anticipate.
According to Dr Givi, burnout is a legitimate issue, especially during the holiday season when we may receive an overwhelming number of invitations.
“Feel free to decline occasional invitations. However, remember that building relationships involves spending time with others, so do not reject every invitation.”
The findings were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.