Social Consequences of Apologetic, Assertive, and Aggressive Requests

Elizabeth McCampbell, R. Barry Ruback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Each of the 60 female subjects in this experiment was asked by a confederate to leave a room. The confederate made the request using an aggressive, assertive, or apologetic expressive style. This request was made after the experimenter had previously told each subject that it was important for her to stay in the room (high sacrifice) or had not said anything about staying in the room (low sacrifice). The manipulation of the confederate's expressive style significantly affected subjects' ratings of the confederate such that the aggressive style produced more negative social evaluations than both the apologetic and assertive styles. Increasing the sacrifice involved in subjects' compliance to the request significantly reduced both the amount and speed of compliance. Results suggest that to teach clients how to maintain positive social relationships, assertion trainers should continue to focus on teaching the distinction between assertion and aggression. With regard to the instrumental effectiveness of a request, results suggest that situational constraints on the target of the request are more important than the way in which the request is phrased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-73
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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