When faced with prosocial requests, consumers face a difficult decision between taking on the request’s burden or appearing unwarm (unkind, uncaring). We propose that the desire to refuse such requests while protecting a morally warm image leads consumers to under-represent their competence. Although consumers care strongly about being viewed as competent, five studies showed that they downplayed their competence to sidestep a prosocial request. This effect occurred across both self-reported and behavioral displays of competence. Further, the downplaying competence effect only occurred when facing an undesirable prosocial request, not a similarly undesirable proself request. The final studies showed that people specifically downplayed competence and not warmth. We further distinguished between social warmth (e.g., humor) and moral warmth (e.g., kindness), showing that when competence, social warmth, and moral warmth were all requisite skills for a prosocial task, people downplayed competence and social warmth more than moral warmth. These findings underscore that although people care strongly about being viewed as competent, they willingly trade off competence evaluations if evaluations of warmth—particularly moral warmth—are at risk.
Prosocial, Self-evaluation, Modesty, Skill, Competence, Warmth
Management Sciences and Quantitative Methods | Marketing
Journal of Consumer Psychology
LIU, Peggy and LIN, Stephanie C..
Projecting lower competence to maintain moral warmth in the avoidance of prosocial requests. (2017). Journal of Consumer Psychology. 1-17. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/5403
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