Saying No to social invitations can benefit your health

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Many people find it hard to decline an invitation, even if they’d rather not attend an event. They often fear that saying no could have negative consequences for their relationships. However, new research suggests that these fears may be unfounded.

The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, indicates that people tend to overestimate the social fallout of rejecting an invitation.

Lead author Julian Givi, PhD, from West Virginia University, explains that this common experience reveals a disconnect between our expectations and reality.

The Fear of Rejection

In a pilot study, 77% of participants admitted to accepting unwanted invitations due to concerns about the potential consequences of declining. To investigate these fears, researchers conducted five experiments involving over 2,000 participants.

Imagining Scenarios

In one experiment, participants were asked to imagine a scenario in which they either declined an invitation from a friend or invited a friend and received a decline in response.

The results showed that those who imagined turning down the invitation believed it would harm their relationship. They thought their friend would feel angry, disappointed, and less likely to invite them to future events.

Exaggerated Concerns

This tendency to exaggerate the negative impact of declining an invitation was consistent across the experiments. People often thought that those who issued the invitation would focus more on the act of declining than on the reasoning behind it.

Close Relationships

Even in close relationships, the fear of upsetting someone by declining an invitation was evident. Participants believed their partner would be angrier or interpret the rejection as a sign of not caring, regardless of the length of their relationship.

Managing Burnout

The findings suggest that people should not hesitate to decline invitations occasionally, especially when it can help prevent burnout. Julian Givi advises against declining every invitation, as spending time with others is essential for building and maintaining relationships.

In summary, while it may feel uncomfortable to say no to social invitations, the research shows that people often overestimate the negative consequences of doing so.

Understanding that these fears are exaggerated can empower individuals to make choices that prioritize their well-being without damaging their relationships.

If you care about mental health, please read studies about 6 foods you can eat to improve mental health, and B vitamins could help prevent depression and anxiety.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about how dairy foods may influence depression risk, and results showing Omega-3 fats may help reduce depression.

The research findings can be found in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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