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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Urs Fischbacher & Verena Utikal, 2010. "On the Acceptance of Apologies," TWI Research Paper Series 53, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
  • Handle: RePEc:twi:respas:0053
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The Difficulty of Apologizing
      by Miguel in Simoleon Sense on 2010-07-14 03:10:44
    2. Sorry seems to be the hardest word
      by Kevin Denny in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2010-07-12 21:59:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Schniter, Eric & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Sznycer, Daniel, 2013. "Building and rebuilding trust with promises and apologies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 242-256.
    2. Vranceanu, Radu & Sutan, Angela & Dubart, Delphine, 2016. "Discontent with taxes and the timing of taxation : experimental evidence," ESSEC Working Papers WP1602, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
    3. Eric Schniter & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2014. "Predictable and Predictive Emotions: Explaining Cheap Signals and Trust Re-Extension," Working Papers 14-07, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    4. Utikal, Verena, 2012. "A fault confessed is half redressed—Confessions and punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 314-327.
    5. Sabrina Strang & Verena Utikal & Urs Fischbacher & Bernd Weber & Armin Falk, 2014. "Neural Correlates of Receiving an Apology and Active Forgiveness: An fMRI Study," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(2), pages 1-7, February.
    6. Srivastava, Vatsalya, 2017. "The Sorry Clause (Revision of TILEC DP 2016-004)," Other publications TiSEM 5925920e-05c6-4ae0-8e76-d, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    7. Srivastava, Vatsalya, 2016. "The Sorry Clause," Discussion Paper 2016-008, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    8. Elias L Khalil & Nick Feltovich, 2018. "Moral licensing, instrumental apology and insincerity aversion: Taking Immanuel Kant to the lab," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(11), pages 1-24, November.
    9. Cailin O'Connor, 2019. "Methods, Models, and the Evolution of Moral Psychology," Papers 1909.09198, arXiv.org.
    10. Srivastava, Vatsalya, 2017. "The Sorry Clause (revision of CentER DP 2016-008)," Other publications TiSEM 252e9410-4c9f-4a40-9ab7-a, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    11. Srivastava, Vatsalya, 2016. "The Sorry Clause," Other publications TiSEM 51d65f16-812c-4fbd-9cd2-f, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    12. Srivastava, Vatsalya, 2016. "The Sorry Clause," Other publications TiSEM 9340f3b1-ebf3-46b9-8ffd-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    13. Sascha Behnk & Iván Barreda-Tarrazona & Aurora García-Gallego, 2018. "Punishing liars—How monitoring affects honesty and trust," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(10), pages 1-30, October.
    14. Xiao, Erte, 2017. "Justification and conformity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 15-28.
    15. Ben Gilbert & Alexander James & Jason F. Shogren, 2018. "Corporate apology for environmental damage," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 56(1), pages 51-81, February.
    16. Srivastava, Vatsalya, 2016. "The Sorry Clause," Discussion Paper 2016-004, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    17. Srivastava, Vatsalya, 2017. "The Sorry Clause (revision of CentER DP 2016-008)," Discussion Paper 2017-002, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    18. Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2013. "Strategic ignorance in ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 104-115.
    19. Fabian Dvorak & Sebastian Fehrler, 2018. "Negotiating Cooperation Under Uncertainty: Communication in Noisy, Indefinitely Repeated Interactions," TWI Research Paper Series 112, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
    20. Dvorak, Fabian & Fehrler, Sebastian, 2018. "Negotiating Cooperation under Uncertainty: Communication in Noisy, Indefinitely Repeated Interactions," IZA Discussion Papers 11897, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    21. Srivastava, Vatsalya, 2017. "The Sorry Clause (Revision of TILEC DP 2016-004)," Discussion Paper 2017-002, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Apology; Intentions; Experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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