ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (3): 291-305.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.00291

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

“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 Published:2021-03-25 Online:2021-01-27
  • Contact: LU Jingyi
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(71771088)


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 and therefore may be reluctant to offer help again. Is this prediction accurate? Across six studies (N = 1763), by comparing helpers’ predictions of help recipients’ reactions with help recipients’ actual reactions, the present research revealed a misprediction: helpers overestimated the negative impacts (underestimated the positive impacts) of their behaviors on help recipients when they tried to help but caused more troubles. The reason for this misprediction was that in contrast to helpers’ predictions about help recipients, help recipients paid more attention to helpers’ warmth and less attention to helpers’ competence.

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