Saying “No” Is Harder Than We Think: Implications for Compliance and Consent – Dr Vanessa Bohns (Cornell)

October 20, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
via zoom
David Young

Saying “no” is hard. By refusing a request—whether a request for help, a romantic advance, or something more nefarious—one risks offending one’s interaction partner and embarrassing everyone involved. As a result, people regularly agree to things—even things they would prefer not to do—in order to avoid the considerable discomfort of saying “no.” Yet when we are not the ones facing the immediate prospect of saying “no,” we tend to discount the power of these concerns as drivers of behavior. I will demonstrate that this tendency to underestimate the role of discomfort in driving compliance leads people to underestimate the likelihood that people will agree to both their prosocial and unethical requests, and view compliance with such requests as more voluntary than targets experience their own acquiescence. These findings have important implications for determining whether someone has voluntarily consented to a request or merely complied.

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