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On the Acceptance of Apologies

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  • Urs Fischbacher
  • Verena Utikal

Abstract

An apology is a strong and cheap device to restore social or economic relationships that have been disturbed. In a laboratory experiment we find that harmdoers use apologies in particular if they fear punishment and when their intentions cannot be easily inferred. After offenses with ambiguous intentionality apologizers are punished less often than nonapologizers. Victims expect an apology and punish if they do not receive one. If an apology is possible, harmdoers who apologize are punished with lower probability. An apology only affects the event of punishment but not the level of punishment. An apology does not help at all after clearly intentionally committed offenses. On the contrary, after such offenses harmdoers do better not to apologize since sending an apology in this situation strongly increases punishment compared to remaining silent.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz in its series TWI Research Paper Series with number 53.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:twi:respas:0053

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Keywords: Apology; Intentions; Experiment;

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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The Difficulty of Apologizing
    by Miguel in Simoleon Sense on 2010-07-13 22:10:44
  2. Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    by Kevin Denny in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2010-07-12 16:59:00
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Cited by:
  1. Schniter, Eric & Sheremeta, Roman & Sznycer, Daniel, 2013. "Building and Rebuilding Trust with Promises and Apologies," MPRA Paper 53596, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2013. "Strategic ignorance in ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 104-115.
  3. Verena Utikal, 2010. "A fault confessed is half redressed - Confessions and Punishment," TWI Research Paper Series, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz 60, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.

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