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Hierarchy Moderates the Relational Consequences of Using Two-step Leverage in Help-exchange

Extant research on help has focused on the processes of exchanging help in one-shot interactions, while neglecting how help-seekers can obtain help when the helper refuses. The current research investigates the effectiveness and downstream relational consequences of asking for help following an initial refusal through engaging a third-party broker, or “two-step leverage”. We posit that employing two-step leverage is a double-edged sword: it can increase the helper’s compliance but the help-seeker will incur relational costs. Importantly, these effects are moderated by the hierarchical relationship between the broker and the helper. Two experiments found that helpers are most likely to comply to the help-seeker’s request when the broker is the helper’s superior but also incur the highest relational costs. Notably, we find that the relational costs are mitigated when the broker holds the same rank as the helper, and this effect is mediated by trust.

Ye Jin Park
New York University
United States

Andy J. Yap

Martin Gargiulo


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