Excuses and Apologies: What Do They Differ in Impression Formation?

[Speaker] Shirahama, Rina:1
[Co-author] Sugamura, Genji:2
1:Graduate School of Psychology, Kansai University (Japan), 2:Department of Psychology, Kansai University (Japan)

We conducted two experiments to examine the effects of wording in social predicaments on interpersonal impression by priming two different words: excuses vs. apologies (iiwake vs. riyuu in Japanese). In Study 1, seventy-seven participants were randomly assigned to two groups. They first read a short story in which a person made a mistake and was saying sorry. Then, they rated the impression of him/her using a Big-Five personality inventory. The story used was identical between groups, except that the situation was described as excuses or apologies. The results showed that the apologies group rated the person less "open" than the excuses group (p = .08). Study 2 replicated the same effect in a situation where the person mistook but was not saying sorry (p = .07). This was perhaps because the word apologies has more conventional and stereotypical connotations than the word excuses.
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