Nav: Home

Individuals of victimized groups require group sincerity before giving forgiveness

April 04, 2017

Public and political apologies have steeply increased in recent times. Yet the sincerity of those apologies and how they are received by victims varies widely. Based on new social psychological research on group apologies, the sincerity of a collective apology is judged not so much by the inner state of the person issuing the apology but rather by the inner state of the group that the apologizer represents.

For apologies between individuals the apologizer accounts for their individual wrongdoing and, to be sincere, needs to be true to their own inner feelings and beliefs. With collective apologies the apologizer accounts for the group's wrongdoing. Sincerity here depends on the apologizer representing the group's feelings and beliefs. Democratic process and majority endorsement within the offender group therefore influence victims' perception of sincerity and conciliatory response.

In a series of four studies, researchers in Australia investigated how people react to apologies for wrongdoing engineered in lab settings and to Japan's real-life apology in regards to Australian POW camps in WWII. The most effective group apologies came from democratic rather than random decision-making processes. Apologies were also more likely to be perceived as sincere and responded to with forgiveness if the wider offender group was seen to support the apology.

"The sincerity of an apology is often critical for it to be viewed positively by victims," says lead author Michael Wenzel (Flinders University).

He notes that people are very perceptive of the decision dynamics within an offender group, and this plays into how victims respond to apologies.

"Victim group members not only consider the apology itself but also how it has come about; whether it is based on democratic decision-making processes or not, and whether it is carried by a majority of the offender group," says Wenzel.

"Governments and political leadership intent on repairing the moral harm due to their group's past actions, as well as repairing the relationship with the victim group, should try and build consensus within their group about the appropriateness of an apology to the victim group," says Wenzel. "They should consult with their wider group membership and engage them in a collective decision to apologize to the victim group." He also notes that awareness of division within the debates is important, as this can ultimately affect how the victimized group perceives the apology.

"Apologies always seem to trigger the question whether 'they really mean it,'" summarizes Wenzel, "For collective apologies the clues lie in group-internal processes and 'domestic politics.' Victims seem to be attuned to those. A question is whether offender groups or their political leaders are, too."

Researchers Michael Wenzel, Tyler G. Okimoto (The University of Queensland), Matthew J. Hornsey (The University of Queensland), Ellie Lawrence-Wood (The University of Adelaide) and Anne-Marie Coughlin (Flinders University) worked on the study, recently published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
-end-


Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Related Apologies Articles:

Police officers speak less respectfully to black residents than to white residents
Professors Jennifer Eberhardt and Dan Jurafsky along with other Stanford researchers detected racial disparities in police officers' speech after analyzing hundreds of hours of body camera footage from Oakland Police.
Paper: 'No admit-No deny' settlements undercut accountability in civil enforcement
The failure of federal watchdog agencies to require admissions of guilt from the targets of civil enforcement can trigger calls for greater accountability from the public, says a new paper from U. of I. law professors Verity Winship and Jennifer K.
Individuals of victimized groups require group sincerity before giving forgiveness
In a series of studies social psychologists examined group forgiveness and found that individuals are astute perceivers of political process.
Link found between epilepsy drugs and birth defects
A joint study conducted by researchers from the universities of Liverpool and Manchester has found a link between birth defects and certain types of epilepsy medication.
Is shotgun marriage dead?
Shotgun marriages have faded in popularity overall, but are on the rise among some groups, says new research from Duke University.
Hospitals can tear down 'wall of silence' using new research-based patient safety toolkit
A new toolkit for hospitals aims to break down the 'wall of silence' that often rises after something goes wrong in a patient's care.
The light stuff: A brand-new way to produce electron spin currents
Publishing in Nature Physics April 25, Colorado State University scientists are the first to demonstrate using non-polarized light to produce in a metal what's called a spin voltage -- a unit of power produced from the quantum spinning of an individual electron.
The 6 elements of an effective apology, according to science
There are six components to an apology -- and the more of them you include when you say you're sorry, the more effective your apology will be, according to new research.
Fungi are at the root of tropical forest diversity -- or lack thereof, study finds
The types of beneficial fungi that associate with tree roots can alter the fate of a patch of tropical forest, boosting plant diversity or, conversely, giving one tree species a distinct advantage over many others, researchers report.
ERC Consolidator Grants: €585 million for 302 top researchers in Europe
The European Research Council (ERC) has announced today the 302 winners of its 2015 Consolidator Grant competition.

Related Apologies Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Setbacks
Failure can feel lonely and final. But can we learn from failure, even reframe it, to feel more like a temporary setback? This hour, TED speakers on changing a crushing defeat into a stepping stone. Guests include entrepreneur Leticia Gasca, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood, astronomer Phil Plait, former professional athlete Charly Haversat, and UPS training manager Jon Bowers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".