Doing More, Doing Less: Consequences of Exceeding Vs. Falling Short of Promises

Ayelet Gneezy , University of California at San Diego, USA
Nick Epley, University of Chicago, USA
Promises are more often made than kept. This research investigates the psychological and behavioral consequences of exceeding versus falling short of one's promises to others. A series of experiments demonstrates that exceeding a promise does not make others reliably happier than simply doing exactly as promised, which in itself, is highly rated. Falling short of one's promise, however, makes others significantly unhappy. We predict that promise givers themselves will not properly appreciate this asymmetry, and more specifically that they would underestimate both others' negative reaction to falling short of a promise and the positive reaction to exceeding it.
[ to cite ]:
Ayelet Gneezy and Nick Epley (2010) ,"Doing More, Doing Less: Consequences of Exceeding Vs. Falling Short of Promises", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 235-241 .