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Abstract

According to the Needs-Based Model, reconciliation requires the restoration of victims' sense of power and perpetrators' moral image, which can be achieved through the exchange of empowering and accepting messages. In two role-playing experiments, we extended the model by examining the role of message source, the other conflict party versus a neutral third party, in facilitating reconciliation. Focusing on transgressions between apartment roommates, Study 1 found that regardless of message source, empowering messages restored victims' sense of power, and accepting messages restored perpetrators' moral image. Yet, messages from the other conflict party restored victims' and perpetrators' trust in each other more effectively than messages from third parties. Multiple mediation analyses revealed that both need satisfaction (restoring victims' sense of power and perpetrators' moral image) and trust building were critical for reconciliation. Replicating these findings in a context of transgressions between workplace colleagues, Study 2 further revealed that messages from third parties restored perpetrators' moral image only in the eyes of the third party (but not in the eyes of the victim), leading to a negative indirect effect on perpetrators' reconciliation tendencies. Theoretical implications for the modification of the Needs-Based Model and practical implications for the limits of third parties' interventions to promote interpersonal reconciliation are discussed. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.