Although previous research on apologies has shown that apologies can have many beneficial effects on victims' responses, the dyadic nature of the apology process has largely been ignored. As a consequence, very little is known about the congruence between perpetrators' willingness to apologize and victims' willingness to receive an apology. In three experimental studies we showed that victims mainly want to receive an apology after an intentional transgression, whereas perpetrators want to offer an apology particularly after an unintentional transgression. As expected, these divergent apologetic needs among victims and perpetrators were mediated by unique emotions: guilt among perpetrators and anger among victims. These results suggest that an apology serves very different goals among victims and perpetrators, thus pointing at an apology mismatch.

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Keywords Anger, Apologies, Forgiveness, Guilt, Perpetrators, Transgressions
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Leunissen, J.M, de Cremer, D, Reinders Folmer, C.P, & van Dijke, M.H. (2013). The apology mismatch: Asymmetries between victim's need for apologies and perpetrator's willingness to apologize. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(3), 315–324. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2012.12.005