Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Social Psychology on Apologies - Dictionary of Arguments

Parisi I 138
Apologies/Social Psychology/Nadler/Mueller: Some common elements include an admission of wrongdoing and/or an acknowledgment of the rule that was violated, expression of responsibility, expression of regret or remorse, a promise to forbear, and an offer to repair (Dhami, 2012(1); O'Hara and Yarn, 2002(2)).
Responsibility: Empirically, taking responsibility for one's actions, offering to repair damage, and promising to forebear in the future have been shown to be essential elements (Scher and Darley, 1997)(3).
Punishment/blame: Apologies that contain none of these characteristics lead to increased blame and punishment.
Future behavior: A wrongdoer whose apology omits an expression of responsibility is perceived to be more likely to cause harm in the future (Robbennolt, 2003)(4).
Moral character: In some circumstances, a wrongdoer who issues an apology is viewed more favorably, serving to reduce the inference of negative moral character (Gold and Weiner, 2000(5); Ohbuchi, Kameda, and Agarie, 1989)(6). As a result of an apology, people perceive the wrongdoer as less likely to offend in the future (Etienne and Robbennolt, 2007(7);Gold and Weiner, 2000(5)).
Court proceedings: In another study, judges who evaluated a hypothetical about a defendant who threatened a fellow judge imposed a lower sentence when the defendant apologized at the sentencing hearing, compared to when he did not (Rachlinski, Guthrie, and Wistrich, 2013)(8). Judges who evaluated a hypothetical robbery case imposed a lower sentence when the defendant apologized (Rachlinski et al., 2013)(8). These effects were small but reliable.
Settlement: (...) there is experimental evidence that a defendant who apologizes to the plaintiff can increase the likelihood of out-of-court settlement by making the plaintiff more amenable to coming to the negotiation table, and by lowering the dollar amount that the plaintiff would be willing to accept in settlement (Robbennolt, 2006)(9).
Parisi I 139
Punishment: (...) motorists who apologize to a police omcer issuing a traffc ticket might incur a lower fine (Day and Ross, 2011)(10) but motorists who apologize to an administrative law judge in court might find themselves incurring a higher fine (Rachlinski et al., 2013)(8). >Attractiveness/Social Psychology, >Punishment/Social Psychology.


1. Dhami, M. K. (2012). "Offer and Acceptance of Apology in Victim-Offender Mediation." Critical Criminology 20(1): 45-60. doi:10.1007/s10612-011-9149-5.
2. O'Hara, E. and D. Yarn (2002). "On Apology and Consilience." Washington Law Review 77:
1121.
3. Scher, S. J. andJ. M. Darley (1997). "How Effective Are the Things People Say to Apologize?
Effects of the Realization ofthe Apology Speech Act." Journal of Psycholinguistic Research
26(1): 127-140.
4. Robbennolt, J. K. (2003). "Apologies and Legal Settlement: An Empirical Examination."
Michigan Law Review doi:10.2307/3595367.
5. Gold, G. J. and B. Weiner (2000). "Remorse, Confession, Group Identity, and Expectancies
About Repeating a Transgression." Basic and Applied Social Psychology 22(4): 291-300.
6. Ohbuchi, K., M. Kameda, and N. Agarie (1989). "Apology as Aggression Control: Its Role in
Mediating Appraisal of and Response to Harm." Journal of Personality and Social Psychol-
ogy doi:10.1037/0022-3514.56.2.219.
7. Etienne, M. and J. K. Robbennolt (2007). "Apologies and Plea Bargaining." Marquette Law Review 91:295.
8. Rachlinski, J. J., C. Guthrie, and A. J. Wistrich (2013). "Contrition in the Courtroom: Do
Apologies Affect Adjudication?" Cornell Law Review 98(5): 13-90.
9. Robbennolt, J. K. (2006). "Apologies and Settlement Levers." Journal of Empirical Legal studies 3(2): 333-373.
10. Day, M. V. and M. Ross (2011). "The Value of Remorse: How Drivers' Responses to Police
Predict Fines for Speeding." Law and Human Behavior 3 5(3): 221-234. doi:10.1007/
s10979-010-9234-4.


Nadler, Janice and Pam A. Mueller. „Social Psychology and the Law“. In: Parisi, Francesco (ed) (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Law and Economics. Vol 1: Methodology and Concepts. NY: Oxford University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Social Psychology
Parisi I
Francesco Parisi (Ed)
The Oxford Handbook of Law and Economics: Volume 1: Methodology and Concepts New York 2017


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