According to a study, the host most likely won’t be bothered if you choose not to attend the Christmas party.
If you prefer wearing your pajamas and staying home over attending the office holiday party, you can relax and take comfort in the fact that researchers have found hosts to be more understanding of declinations than expected.
A study conducted in the United States revealed that individuals often worry about rejecting an invitation as it may upset the host and result in receiving fewer invitations in the future. However, these concerns are usually blown out of proportion.
The authors state that although it may appear that the only thing the inviter will focus on is your decline, they will actually take into account other factors. This means that the consequences of saying no may not be as harsh as you anticipate.
The research, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, consisted of five experiments with over 2,000 participants.
For the initial test, 382 individuals participated online and were divided into two categories. The first group was instructed to read a hypothetical invitation from a friend, inviting them to an event at a nearby museum over the coming weekend. They were then asked to imagine declining the invitation by stating that they simply wanted to stay home and unwind. Certain participants were informed that they were the sole invitee, while others were told that multiple invitations had been extended.
The invited individuals were requested to rate the potential consequences on a scale, such as the level of anger from the host, the perception of being uncaring towards the host, and the likelihood of receiving fewer invitations in the future.
The second group was instructed to imagine themselves as the host and evaluate their potential emotions towards rejection.
The findings showed that no matter how many people the participants were informed were invited, those who declined the invitation tended to perceive the expected outcomes as more negative compared to the hosts. This was evident in terms of the host’s emotions and the potential impact on future invitations, such as the host rejecting invitations from them.
“In our various experiments, we consistently discovered that those invited tend to overestimate the negative consequences for the inviter when an invitation is declined,” explained Dr. Julian Givi, the main researcher from West Virginia University, in the study.
The team discovered that the results remained consistent even if the host and invitee had a real-life connection.
Yet, another study showed that individuals’ worries about turning down an invitation decreased after they themselves had been rejected by someone else.
The team examined how third-party observers would anticipate a rejection to be received in different situations. They also looked into whether a host would prioritize the rejection itself or the thought process of the invitees.
According to the findings, people’s reluctance to decline invitations is not due to an exaggerated sense of importance or consideration for future invitations. Instead, it stems from the belief that the host will pay more attention to the rejection rather than the reasons behind it.
The team states that the results have practical applications.
The research indicates that the consequences of rejecting invitations may not be as severe as invitees believe, and that they may be able to decline more invitations than they currently do.