How to Cancel Plans With Friends: A Mixed Methods Study of Strategy and Experience

Sophia Caron, Jacqueline Thomas, Alaina Torres, Jeewon Oh, William Chopik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Being cancelled on is inevitable. However, maintaining friendships is important and cancelled plans may evoke feelings of disappointment. To prevent this, we examined ways to go about cancelling plans that would not negatively impact friendships. Our study examined what people consider appropriate and inappropriate reasons and the best methods to cancel plans. A variety of close-ended and open-ended questions regarding what participants believed was a reasonable excuse for cancelling and the worst excuse for cancelling was asked. Participants were also asked about how cancelled plans made them feel. Among 1,192 people (72.5% women; 71.8% White), the majority of the participants wanted advanced notice and/or a quick call/text when plans are being cancelled. Health or family reasons were among the most reasonable excuses. Conversely, excuses regarding a better offer, such as finding something better to do, were among the most unacceptable reasons to cancel plans. Over 80% of the sample reported feeling annoyed when they found out that an excuse to cancel was a lie. Honoring commitments is essential to maintaining friendships, which is associated with better health and well-being. When breaking commitments, the best way to go about it is to cancel in advance and have honest and reasonable excuses which serve to maintain friendships that are a fundamental part of life and satisfy the need to belong.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number57549
JournalCollabra: Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 19 2023


  • cancelling plans
  • friendship
  • investment model
  • mixed methods
  • need to belong

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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