Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Keeping a promise worth more than exceeding it

Date:
July 17, 2014
Source:
University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Summary:
Exceeding a promise isn't viewed any more highly than keeping a promise, a study has demonstrated. Researchers thus suggest that there is little or no benefit to putting forth a greater effort to exceed a promise when keeping a promise is so highly valued. This likely extends beyond interpersonal relationships, the researchers write, to relationships between businesses and customers, and employers and employees.

You better think twice before breaking that promise -- or exceeding it.

New research from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business finds that exceeding a promise isn't viewed any more highly than keeping a promise.

"I think there are two implications to keep in mind, both in our professional and personal lives. First, maintaining good relations with other people does not require a superhuman effort. Do what you promise you'll do, and people are grateful," says Nicholas Epley, John Templeton Keller Professor of Behavioral Science at Chicago Booth. "You don't need to be Superman and go above and beyond your promises in order to be appreciated by other people.

"Second, if you do put in the superhuman effort to do more than you promised, don't get angry when other people don't seem to appreciate the extra work you put in. They're not inherently ungrateful or unappreciative -- they're only human."

Epley and Ayelet Gneezy, of the Rady School of Management at the University of California at San Diego, published their findings in their paper "Worth Keeping But Not Exceeding: Asymmetric Consequences of Breaking Versus Exceeding Promises" (Social Psychological and Personality Science, May 2014). The researchers conducted three sets of experiments, and found asymmetry between promises broken versus kept, and promises kept versus promises exceeded.

Thus, they say, there is little or no benefit to putting forth a greater effort to exceed a promise when keeping a promise is so highly valued.

This also likely extends beyond interpersonal relationships, the researchers write, to relationships between businesses and customers, and employers and employees.

To show this, Epley and Gneezy asked undergraduates to imagine purchasing tickets to a concert from an online company for Row 10 -- and then were given worse tickets than promised, better tickets or the exact tickets promised. They found that respondents had a more negative association to the better tickets than the promised tickets (though the worse tickets were viewed more negatively than the other scenarios).

"Businesses may work hard to exceed their promises to customers or employees (Conway and Briner, 2002), but our research suggests that this hard work may not produce the desired consequences beyond those obtained by simply keeping promises," they write in their conclusion. "Promises can be hard to keep, and promise makers should spend their effort keeping them wisely."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Gneezy, N. Epley. Worth Keeping but Not Exceeding: Asymmetric Consequences of Breaking Versus Exceeding Promises. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/1948550614533134

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Booth School of Business. "Keeping a promise worth more than exceeding it." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717094556.htm>.
University of Chicago Booth School of Business. (2014, July 17). Keeping a promise worth more than exceeding it. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717094556.htm
University of Chicago Booth School of Business. "Keeping a promise worth more than exceeding it." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717094556.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins