How important is an apology to you?

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Not as much as you probably think:

Apologies are commonly used to deal with transgressions in relationships. Results to date, however, indicate that the positive effects of apologies vary widely, and the match between people’s judgments of apologies and the true value of apologies has not been studied. Building on the affective and behavioral forecasting literature, we predicted that people would overestimate how much they value apologies in reality. Across three experimental studies, our results showed that after having been betrayed by another party (or after imagining this to be the case), people (a) rated the value of an apology much more highly when they imagined receiving an apology than when they actually received an apology and (b) displayed greater trusting behavior when they imagined receiving an apology than when they actually received an apology. These results suggest that people are prone to forecasting errors regarding the effectiveness of an apology and that they tend to overvalue the impact of receiving one.

Source: “How Important Is an Apology to You?, Forecasting Errors in Evaluating the Value of Apologies” from Psychological Science

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