All Apologies: On the willingness of perpetrators to apologize Defended on Friday, 10 January 2014

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.


apologies; reconciliation; perpetrators; forgiveness; transgressions; guilt; ; intentionality; valuable relationship hypothesis; forecasting errors

  • Share on