Year: 2022 Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (2022). Published online 11 July 2022. SIEC No: 20220965

People are fundamentally social beings and enjoy connecting with others. Sometimes, people reach out to others—whether simply to check-in on how others are doing with brief messages or to show that they are thinking of others by sending small gifts to them. Yet, despite the importance and enjoyment of social connection, do people  accurately understand how much other people value being reached out to by someone in their social circle? Across a series of preregistered experiments, we document a  robust underestimation of how much other people appreciate being reached out to. We find evidence compatible with an account wherein one reason this   underestimation of appreciation occurs is because responders (vs. initiators) are more focused on their feelings of surprise at being reached out to. A focus on feelings of surprise in turn predicts greater appreciation. We further identify process-consistent moderators of the underestimation of reach-out appreciation, finding that it is  magnified when the reach-out context is more surprising: when it occurs within a surprising (vs. unsurprising) context for the recipient and when it occurs between  more socially distant (vs. socially close) others. Altogether, this research thus identifies when and why we underestimate how much other people appreciate us reaching out to them, implicating a heightened focus on feelings of surprise as one underlying explanation.