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Abstract

Governments and political groups around the world are increasingly offering apologies to atone for past injustices. In recent years social psychologists have begun to empirically explore whether these apologies improve intergroup relations. We organize this literature into a framework outlining potential outcomes of intergroup apologies, mediators of those outcomes, and circumstances that allow those outcomes to be realized. Psychologists have focused most of their efforts around the questions of whether and when intergroup apologies elicit forgiveness and foster positive intergroup attitudes. Thus, in addition to outlining the present state of knowledge on intergroup apologies, this framework highlights areas that require further research; most notably, the model makes evident that we know little about what psychological states mediate intergroup apology effects.