ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (3): 291-305.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.00291

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


尚雪松, 陈卓, 陆静怡()   

  1. 华东师范大学心理与认知科学学院, 上海 200062
  • 收稿日期:2020-08-04 出版日期:2021-03-25 发布日期:2021-01-27
  • 通讯作者: 陆静怡
  • 基金资助:
    * 国家自然科学基金项目资助(71771088)

“Will I be judged harshly after trying to help but causing more troubles?” A misprediction about help recipients

SHANG Xuesong, CHEN Zhuo, LU Jingyi()   

  1. School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2020-08-04 Online:2021-03-25 Published:2021-01-27
  • Contact: LU Jingyi


好心帮倒忙事件时有发生, 帮忙失败的施助者往往认为受助者会苛责自己, 因而可能不愿再次提供帮助。这种预测准确吗?通过6个研究( N = 1763), 对比施助者对受助者反应的预测和受助者的实际反应, 发现了施助者在好心帮倒忙时的预测偏差:他们高估了受助者的负面反应。而在帮忙成功时, 施助者未出现预测偏差或预测偏差的强度较弱。导致该预测偏差的原因是, 施助者更为关注自身的能力, 以为受助者也关注自己的能力, 而受助者更为在意施助者的温暖程度。

关键词: 预测偏差, 帮助, 能力, 温暖, 判断与决策


In many cases, people intend to offer help but unfortunately cause more troubles to help recipients. After doing so, helpers often expect negative evaluations from help recipients. However, is this prediction accurate? The present research proposes a misprediction: helpers will overestimate the negative impacts (underestimate the positive impacts) of their behaviors on help recipients when they try to help but cause more troubles. The reason for this misprediction is that in contrast to helpers’ predictions about help recipients, help recipients pay more attention to helpers’ warmth and less attention to helpers’ competence.

We conducted six studies (N = 1, 763) to test the proposed misprediction and test its underlying mechanism. Study 1 adopted a 2 (outcome: success or failure) × 2 (role: helper or help recipient) between-subjects design. Helpers predicted help recipients’ reactions (gratefulness, satisfaction, the likelihood to seek help again, the likelihood to recommend helpers to others), whereas help recipients rated their own reactions. The results showed a misprediction such that helpers exaggerated the negative reactions of help recipients. In addition, the misprediction was specific to failure. In the success condition, helpers made accurate predictions about help recipients’ reactions. These results also ruled out alternative explanations of the spotlight effect and social desirability bias.

Studies 2a and 2b adopted an identical design to that in Study 1 and replicated the results in Study 1 in a different scenario by bounded and unbounded scales. In addition, we found the existence of the misprediction made by helpers in both proactive and reactive helping. Study 3 replicated the results by using indicators involving money.

In Study 4, with an identical design to that in Study 1, helpers made predictions about how help recipients rated their warmth and competence, whereas help recipients rated helpers’ warmth and competence. Afterwards, helpers predicted help recipients’ reactions, whereas help recipients rated their own reactions. The results showed that helpers underestimated help recipients’ ratings of warmth and competence in the failure condition and that this underestimation accounted for the overestimation of help recipients’ negative reactions.

In Study 5, we recorded participants’ real-time thoughts during their prediction or rating process. We found that helpers considered their competence (warmth) earlier and more (later and less) than help recipients, indicating that helpers focused more on their competence and less on their warmth when making predictions about help recipients than help recipients did. The query order and content accounted for the overestimation of help recipients’ negative reactions in the failure condition.

We show that people who try to help others but eventually cause more troubles mispredict the reactions of help recipients. Helpers overestimate the negative consequences (underestimate the positive consequences) of their behaviors to help recipients. We also reveal the underlying mechanism of this misprediction that helps recipients pay more attention to helpers’ warmth and less attention to helpers’ competence compared to helpers’ predictions about help recipients. Understanding this misprediction helps alleviate the concerns of helpers when they are intended to offer help but actually do harm to others and helps promote subsequent helping behaviors.

Key words: misprediction, help, competence, warmth, judgment and decision making