Group-based guilt as a predictor of commitment to apology


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Craig McGarty, School of Psychology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia (e-mail:


Whether the Australian government should officially apologize to Indigenous Australians for past wrongs is hotly debated in Australia. The predictors of support amongst non-Indigenous Australians for such an apology were examined in two studies. The first study (N=164) showed that group-based guilt was a good predictor of support for a government apology, as was the perception that non-Indigenous Australians were relatively advantaged. In the second study (N=116) it was found that group-based guilt was an excellent predictor of support for apology and was itself predicted by perceived non-Indigenous responsibility for harsh treatment of Indigenous people, and an absence of doubts about the legitimacy of group-based guilt. National identification was not a predictor of group-based guilt. The results of the two studies suggest that, just as individual emotions predict individual action tendencies, so group-based guilt predicts support for actions or decisions to be taken at the collective level.