Apology Cost Is More Strongly Associated With Perceived Sincerity Than Forgiveness

  • Yohsuke Ohtsubo The University of Tokyo
  • Miyu Higuchi Kobe University
Keywords: costly apology, perceived sincerity, forgiveness


This study aimed at replicating a previously reported pattern: costly apologies are perceived as more sincere than non-costly apologies even when the transgression was unintentional, while costly apologies do not foster forgiveness more than non-costly apologies when the transgression was unintentional. We conducted a vignette study with a 2 (apology cost: costly vs. non-costly) × 3 (intention: no vs. ambiguous vs. malicious intention) between-participants factorial design. We failed to replicate the aforementioned pattern. Instead, we found that costly apologies promote not only perceived sincerity but also forgiveness in all three intention conditions. In addition, there were two notable patterns. First, the effect of apology cost was stronger for perceived sincerity than for forgiveness in all three intention conditions. Second, both perceived sincerity and forgiveness decreased as the intentional nature of the transgression was described more clearly.

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