All Apologies: On the willingness of perpetrators to apologize

Joost Leunissen
Joost Leunissen
  • Speaker
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University Rotterdam

Event Information

PhD Defence
Business-Society Management
Fri. 10 Jan. 2014
Marisa van Iperen
09:30-11:00 hours
Senate Hall, A-Building, Woudestein Campus


An apology is one of the most common ways for a perpetrator to initiate the reconciliation process. Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of apologies. Contrary to this, almost no research has investigated when perpetrators are actually willing to offer such an apology. In this dissertation the willingness of perpetrators to apologize to a victim after an interpersonal transgression is investigated.

I show reactions of victims after a transgression can influence the willingness of perpetrators to apologize in the sense that perpetrators are more willing to apologize to forgiving victims than to unforgiving victims. I investigated how the intentionality of transgressions influence both the willingness to apologize and a victim’s desire to receive an apology. Perpetrators are more willing to apologize after unintentional than after intentional transgressions, while victims have a greater desire for an apology after intentional than unintentional transgressions. These differences are mediated by unique emotions: guilt and anger. I focus on how the value that perpetrators ascribe to the relationship influences their willingness to apologize. Finally, in this dissertation, I show how perpetrators often overestimate the aversiveness of apologizing which can have a negative effect on their willingness to apologize.

David De Cremer
David De Cremer
Professor of Behavioral Business Ethics
  • Promotor
Marius van Dijke
Endowed Professor in Behavioral Ethics
  • Co-promotor
Steffen Giessner
Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Change
  • Member Doctoral Committee
Muel Kaptein
Professor of Business Ethics and Integrity Management
  • Member Doctoral Committee
Lucas Meijs
Professor of Volunteering, Civil Society and Businesses and Professor of Strategic Philanthropy
  • Member Doctoral Committee
Chris Reinders Folmer
Chris Reinders Folmer
  • Daily Supervisor
Marisa van Iperen
Marisa van Iperen
  • Coordinator