The Cross-Cultural Speech Act Realization Project (Blum-Kulka, House, & Kasper, 1989a) has identified five components of an “apology speech act set”: five strategies that speakers use to apologize. This study examines the effects of four of those strategies (illocutionary force indicating device, expression of responsibility, promise of forebearance, and offer of repair) on the judgments made by hearers about the speaker and about the apology. Each of the strategies is shown to have an independent effect in improving reactions to the speaker. Further, the magnitude of these effects appear to be roughly similar for each of the strategies. The things people say to apologize do seem to be effective in accomplishing the self-presentational goals of apologizers.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Austin, J. L. (1962). How to do things with words. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Barnlund, D. C., & Yoshioka, M. (1990). Apologies: Japanese and American styles. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 14, 193–206.
Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G. (Eds.). (1989a). Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies (Advances in discourse processes, 31, R. O. Freedle, Ed.). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G. (1989b). Investigating cross-cultural pragmatics: An introductory overview. In S. Blum-Kulka, J. House, & G. Kasper (Eds.), Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies (pp. 1–34). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Blum-Kulka, S., & Olshtain, E. (1984). Requests and apologies: A cross-cultural study of speech act realization patterns (CCSARP). Applied Linguistics, 5, 196–213.
Brown, P., & Levinson, S. (1978). Universals in language usage: Politeness phenomena. In E. N. Goody (Ed.), Questions and politeness (pp. 56–310). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Bruning, J. L., & Kintz, B. L. (1977). Computational handbook of statistics (2nd ed.). Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.
Cohen, A. D., & Olshtain, E. (1981). Developing a measure of sociocultural competence: The case of apology. Language Learning, 31, 113–131.
Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Darby, B. W., & Schlenker, B. R. (1982). Children's reactions to apologies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 742–753.
Darby, B. W., & Schlenker, B. R. (1989). Children's reactions to transgressions: Effects of the actor's apology, reputation and remorse. British Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 353–364.
Fraser, B. (1981). On apologising. In F. Coulmas (Ed.), Conversational routine. The Hague, The Netherlands: Mouton.
Givens, K. K., Mills, C. M., Smith, C. E., & Stack, A. D. (1994, May). Can an apology overcome the fundamental attribution error? Paper presented at the Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago.
Goffman, E. (1971). Relations in public. New York: Harper & Row.
Heise, D. R., & Thomas, T. (1989). Predicting impressions created by combinations of emotion and social identity. Social Psychology Quarterly, 52, 93–106.
Holmes, J. (1989). Sex differences and apologies: One aspect of communicative competence. Applied Linguistics, 10, 194–213.
Howell, D. C. (1992). Statistical methods for psychology (3rd ed.). Belmont, California: Duxbury Press.
Kerlinger, F., & Pedhazur, E. J. (1973). Multiple regression in behavioral research. New York: Holt, Reinhart, and Winston.
Lazowski, L. E. (1987). Speakers' nonverbal expressions of emotion as moderators of listeners' reactions to disclosures of self harm and social harm. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Manstead, A. S. R., & Semin, G. R. (1981). Social transgressions, social perspectives, and social emotionality. Motivation and Emotion, 5, 249–261.
Ohbuchi, K., Kameda, M., & Agarie, N. (1989). Apology as aggression control: Its role in mediating appraisal of and response to harm. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 219–227.
Olshtain, E. (1983). Sociocultural competence and language transfer. In S. Gass & L. Selinker (Eds.), Language transfer in language learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Olshtain, E., & Cohen, A. D. (1983). Apology: A speech act set. In N. Wolfson & E. Judd (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and language acquisition (pp. 18–35). Rawley, MA: Newbury House Publishers.
Scher, S. J. (1989). The effects of apologies and apology structure on social perception and social action. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.
Scher, S. J., & Darley, J. M. (1988). [Preliminary investigations of the effects of apologies]. Unpublished raw data.
Scher, S. J., & Darley, J. M. (1990). Contents of apologies and excuses. Unpublished manuscript.
Scher, S. J., Darley, J. M., & Lynn, K. K. (1996). Effects of apologies on identity, blame, and sanctions. Unpublished manuscript.
Scher, S. J., & Huff, C. W. (1991, May). Apologies and causes of transgressions: Further examination of the role of identity in the remedial process. Paper presented at the meetings of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago.
Schlenker, B. R., & Darby, B. W. (1981). The use of apologies in social predicaments. Social Psychology Quarterly, 44, 271–278.
Scott, M. B., & Lyman, S. M. (1968). Accounts. American Sociological Review, 22, 46–62.
Semin, G. R., & Manstead, A. S. R. (1981). The beholder beheld: A study of social emotionality. European Journal of Social Psychology, 11, 253–265.
Semin, G. R., & Manstead, A. S. R. (1982). The social implications of embarrassment displays and restitution behaviour. European Journal of Social Psychology, 12, 367–377.
Snyder, C. R., Higgins, R. L., & Stucky, R. J. (1983). Excuses: Masquerades in search of grace. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Trillan, C. (1984). Killings. New York: Tickner & Fields.
Trosberg, A. (1987). Apology strategies in natives/non-natives. Journal of Pragmatics, 11, 147–167.
About this article
Cite this article
Scher, S.J., Darley, J.M. How Effective Are the Things People Say to Apologize? Effects of the Realization of the Apology Speech Act. J Psycholinguist Res 26, 127–140 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025068306386
- Cognitive Psychology
- Independent Effect
- Realization Project
- Illocutionary Force
- Thing People