Although very little research in bargaining has addressed how perpetrators should deal with the aftermath of unfair allocations, it has been proposed that an apology may help the reconciliation process. Prior research, however, only focused on whether apologies can reveal positive effects on the reconciliation process but did not focus yet on whether perpetrators are actually willing to apologize. In this paper we investigate perpetrator's willingness to apologize for a trust violation in a bargaining setting. We hypothesized that perpetrators willingness to apologize would be a function of the extent to which the victim of the trust violation is willing to forgive. This effect, however, was expected to emerge only among those perpetrators who are low in dispositional trust. The results from a laboratory study with actual transgressions and actual apologetic behavior supported our predictions and thus emphasize an instrumental view on apologizing in bargaining situations.

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Journal of Economic Psychology
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Leunissen, J., de Cremer, D., & Reinders Folmer, C. (2012). An instrumental perspective on apologizing in bargaining: The importance of forgiveness to apologize. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33(1), 215–222. doi:10.1016/j.joep.2011.10.004