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When apologies work: How matching apology components to victims' self-construals facilitates forgiveness

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  • Fehr, Ryan
  • Gelfand, Michele J.
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    Abstract

    Apologies are useful social tools that can act as catalysts in the resolution of conflict and inspire forgiveness. Yet as numerous real-world blunders attest, apologies are not always effective. Whereas many lead to forgiveness and reconciliation, others simply fall on deaf ears. Despite the fact that apologies differ in their effectiveness, most research has focused on apologies as dichotomous phenomena wherein a victim either (a) receives an apology or (b) does not. Psychological research has yet to elucidate which components of apologies are most effective, and for whom. The present research begins to address this gap by testing the theory that perpetrators' apologies are most likely to inspire victim forgiveness when their components align with victims' self-construals. Regression and hierarchical linear modeling analyses from two studies support the primary hypotheses. As predicted, victims reacted most positively to apologies that were congruent with their self-construals.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

    Volume (Year): 113 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 1 (September)
    Pages: 37-50

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:113:y:2010:i:1:p:37-50

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp

    Related research

    Keywords: Apology Self-construal Forgiveness Social accounts;

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    1. Peterson, Randall S. & Behfar, Kristin Jackson, 2003. "The dynamic relationship between performance feedback, trust, and conflict in groups: A longitudinal study," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 102-112.
    2. Tripp, Thomas M. & Bies, Robert J. & Aquino, Karl, 2002. "Poetic justice or petty jealousy? The aesthetics of revenge," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 966-984, September.
    3. Holmvall, Camilla M. & Bobocel, D. Ramona, 2008. "What fair procedures say about me: Self-construals and reactions to procedural fairness," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 147-168, March.
    4. Johnson, Russell E. & Selenta, Christopher & Lord, Robert G., 2006. "When organizational justice and the self-concept meet: Consequences for the organization and its members," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 175-201, March.
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