Refusing to apologize can have psychological benefits (and we issue no mea culpa for this research finding)

Authors


Correspondence to: Tyler G. Okimoto, UQ Business School, The University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia.

E-mail: t.okimoto@business.uq.edu.au

Abstract

Despite an understanding of the perception and consequences of apologies for their recipients, little is known about the consequences of interpersonal apologies, or their denial, for the offending actor. In two empirical studies, we examined the unexplored psychological consequences that follow from a harm-doer's explicit refusal to apologize. Results showed that the act of refusing to apologize resulted in greater self-esteem than not refusing to apologize. Moreover, apology refusal also resulted in increased feelings of power/control and value integrity, both of which mediated the effect of refusal on self-esteem. These findings point to potential barriers to victim–offender reconciliation after an interpersonal harm, highlighting the need to better understand the psychology of harm-doers and their defensive behavior for self-focused motives. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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