On the Content of Apologies

With the dissertation project two central questions regarding apologies are addressed. Both questions are analyzed from the perspective of those that were transgressed or victimized in a conflict. Firstly, the author wanted to find answers to the question which components of apologies contribute...

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1. Verfasser: Kirchhoff, Johanna
Beteiligte: Wagner, Ulrich (Prof.) (BetreuerIn (Doktorarbeit))
Format: Dissertation
Sprache:Englisch
Veröffentlicht: Philipps-Universität Marburg 2012
Psychologie
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Zusammenfassung:With the dissertation project two central questions regarding apologies are addressed. Both questions are analyzed from the perspective of those that were transgressed or victimized in a conflict. Firstly, the author wanted to find answers to the question which components of apologies contribute to their effectiveness. To address this question the effect of apologies with varying components on the acceptance of the apology and forgiveness was scrutinized in four experimental studies (Manuscript 1 and 2). Furthermore it was scrutinized by means of two of the four experimental studies (Study 1 of Manuscript 1 and 2) if the answers to the question which content of apologies is effective depends on the severity of the transgression for which the apology is given. Secondly, the author wanted to find out why the content of apologies impacts on their effectiveness. Therefore, mediator variables were analyzed in the four experimental studies to see if they could explain the relationship between the content of apologies and their effectiveness. Two of the four experimental studies evaluated the two central questions of the dissertation project for interpersonal (Manuscript 1) and two for intergroup apologies (Manuscript 2). In a further, non-experimental study (Manuscript 3), an empirical analysis of the violated needs after the experience of interpersonal conflicts was conducted. The aim was to identify further possible mediator variables for the relationship between the content of interpersonal apologies and their effectiveness. Together the five studies of the three manuscripts form the dissertation project. There are five main outcomes of the dissertation project, which extend previous research on apologies. Firstly, addressing the question which content of apologies is effective, it applied to interpersonal and intergroup apologies that their components – operationalized with reference to the models by Blatz et al. (2009) and Kirchhoff et al. (2009) – mattered in terms of the effectiveness of the apologies. In the interpersonal context effectiveness meant an increase in forgiveness and in the intergroup context an increase in the acceptance of the apology. Secondly, even though having only received little support, the finding that the components of the apology contributed to their effectiveness seemed to apply slightly more following transgressions of higher severity. Thirdly, the components that had to be included in the apologies in order to observe a significant change in the measurements of effects were context-dependent. This meant that the combination and number of components in the apologies that were more successful than less complete apologies varied across studies. Fourthly, addressing the question why the content of apologies contributes to their effectiveness, no satisfying answers were found. Neither the reduction of anger in both the interpersonal and the intergroup context nor the fulfillment of the need for empowerment in the intergroup context reliably mediated the relationship between the content of apologies and their effectiveness. Fifthly, six needs categories for transgressed people in the interpersonal context were identified. These need categories can be analyzed in further research as mediator variables for the relationship between the utterances of interpersonal apologies and measurements of effects. The author concludes that despite some shortcomings of the studies, it is possible to consider the results within the framework of apologies and conflict transformation in personal one-on-one settings or in the intergroup setting, respectively. Nonetheless, further research is necessary to validate or if necessary question and revise the results of the dissertation project.
DOI:https://doi.org/10.17192/z2013.0232