Do you really expect me to apologize? The impact of status and gender on the effectiveness of an apology in the workplace


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dina Van Dijk, Department of Health Systems Management, Guilford Glazer School of Business & Management, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel. E-mail:


We examine the effectiveness of apology following a workplace offense, as influenced by the achieved or ascribed status (i.e., professional status or gender) of the parties involved. A total of 780 undergraduates participated in a scenario experiment. The results demonstrate that apologizing is more effective than not apologizing. Yet apology is most effective when the apologizer is a male, a manager or is a male apologizing to a female. Moreover, apology expectancy mediates the relationships between the apologizer's status and the apology's effectiveness: Apologies are less expected from managers and males than from subordinates and females, and the less expected they are, the greater their effectiveness. Apology expectancy has a unique effect unrelated to the apologizer's sincerity and perceived motive.