Forecasting Errors in the Averseness of Apologizing

Abstract

Apologizing is often seen as the appropriate response after a transgression for perpetrators. Yet, despite the positive effects that apologies elicit after situations of conflict, they are not always delivered easily. We argue that this is due—at least in part—to perpetrators overestimating the averseness of apologizing, thus committing a forecasting error. Across two laboratory experiments and one autobiographical recall study, we demonstrate that perpetrators overestimate the averseness they will experience when apologizing compared to the averseness they experience when they actually apologize. Moreover, we show that this effect is driven by a misconstrual of the effects of an apology. Perpetrators overestimate the potentially negative effects of apologizing while simultaneously underestimating the potentially positive effects of apologizing. This forecasting error may have a negative effect on the initiation of the reconciliation process, due to perpetrators believing that apologizing is more averse than it actually is.

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Correspondence to Joost M. Leunissen.

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Leunissen, J.M., De Cremer, D., van Dijke, M. et al. Forecasting Errors in the Averseness of Apologizing. Soc Just Res 27, 322–339 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-014-0216-4

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Keywords

  • Apologies
  • Conflict resolution
  • Forecasting errors
  • Perpetrators
  • Reconciliation