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Friday, July 20, 2018

The Psychology of Offering an Apology: Understanding the Barriers to Apologizing and How to Overcome Them

Karina Schumann
Current Directions in Psychological Science 
Vol 27, Issue 2, pp. 74 - 78
First Published March 8, 2018


After committing an offense, a transgressor faces an important decision regarding whether and how to apologize to the person who was harmed. The actions he or she chooses to take after committing an offense can have dramatic implications for the victim, the transgressor, and their relationship. Although high-quality apologies are extremely effective at promoting reconciliation, transgressors often choose to offer a perfunctory apology, withhold an apology, or respond defensively to the victim. Why might this be? In this article, I propose three major barriers to offering high-quality apologies: (a) low concern for the victim or relationship, (b) perceived threat to the transgressor’s self-image, and (c) perceived apology ineffectiveness. I review recent research examining how these barriers affect transgressors’ apology behavior and describe insights this emerging work provides for developing methods to move transgressors toward more reparative behavior. Finally, I discuss important directions for future research.

The article is here.