Victim and Perpetrator Groups' Responses to the Canadian Government's Apology for the Head Tax on Chinese Immigrants and the Moderating Influence of Collective Guilt

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Abstract

European and Chinese Canadians' perceptions and expectations of the Canadian government's apology for the head tax placed on Chinese immigrants during the early twentieth century were examined, along with Chinese Canadians' willingness to forgive the transgression. Among both European and Chinese Canadians, beliefs about the importance attributed to the event and perception of the apology as deserved and sincere heightened expectations of improved intergroup relations. Collective guilt acceptance among European Canadians heightened the relation between perceived sincerity and positive expectations, whereas collective guilt assignment by Chinese Canadians heightened the relation between sincerity and forgiveness. A one-year follow-up of whether Chinese Canadians were equally satisfied with the apology indicated that their willingness to grant forgiveness had waned, and although on the whole expectations of improved relations were met, those who assigned more collective guilt were less convinced. Intergroup apologies and their effectiveness at facilitating intergroup relations are discussed.

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