Memory for intergroup apologies and its relationship with forgiveness



This paper examines memory for collective apologies. Our interest was in determining whether people are aware of intergroup apologies and whether this contributes to forgiveness for offending groups. Surveys conducted in three nations affected by Japanese World War II aggression found that participants were more likely to believe (incorrectly) that Japan had not apologized for WWII than to believe (correctly) that they had (Study 1). In contrast, participants were eight times more likely to believe that a corporation had apologized for misconduct than to (correctly) recall that they had not (Study 1). Forgiveness levels were higher among those who believed the group had apologized than among apology deniers, although the effect was weak and inconsistent. However, in a follow-up study that measured identification with the victim group it was found that high identifiers were significantly less likely to “remember” an apology (Study 2). Results suggest that memories for collective apologies are fluid and may not be causally related to intergroup forgiveness. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.