یک خودتاییدی و معذرت خواهی بهتر: اثر خودتأییدی بر پاسخ ستمکاران به قربانیان
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|38943||2014||8 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 54, September 2014, Pages 89–96
Abstract Comprehensive apologies are powerful tools that transgressors can use to promote reconciliation with the people they have hurt. However, because many apology elements require transgressors to admit fault, express shameful emotions and promise change, transgressors often avoid these threatening elements and instead choose to use more perfunctory apologies or even defensive strategies, such as justifications or attempts to blame the person they hurt. In two studies, I aimed to increase apology comprehensiveness and reduce defensiveness using self-affirmation. I predicted that self-affirmation would help transgressors maintain their self-integrity, consequently allowing them to offer more comprehensive apologies and bypass defensive strategies. Participants received a values affirmation, recalled an unresolved conflict, and indicated what they would say to the person they had hurt. As predicted, affirmed participants offered more comprehensive apologies and used fewer defensive strategies than control participants. These studies thus identify a simple method for promoting responses that facilitate conflict resolution and demonstrate the successful application of self-affirmation to the domain of interpersonal conflict.
Introduction One of the unfortunate certainties of life is that we sometimes hurt people we care about. Luckily, these conflict events do not have to be detrimental to our relationships. Our relationship partners can forgive us for our harmful actions, and this forgiveness can increase their feelings of closeness (McCullough et al., 1998) and their willingness to cooperate and prioritize the needs of the relationship (Karremans & Van Lange, 2004). Moreover, actively discussing and working to resolve relationship problems are associated with positive feelings between partners, as well as both short- and long-term benefits to the relationship (Overall, Sibley, & Travaglia, 2010). Thus, when managed well, conflicts can be functional and contribute to positive relationship outcomes (Gottman and Krokoff, 1989 and Markman et al., 1988). When managed poorly, however, conflicts can be detrimental to relationship satisfaction, causing lasting resentment and even relationship dissolution (Carrere and Gottman, 1999 and Cramer, 2000). These negative effects are not limited to romantic partnerships. Ongoing conflicts can harm other types of relationships (e.g., friendships: Raffaelli, 1997; family: Overall et al., 2010) and have consequences that extend beyond relationship outcomes. For example, unresolved conflict with a colleague in the workplace is associated with reduced organizational commitment, increased intentions to quit, and poor task performance (De Dreu and Weingart, 2003 and Morrison, 2008). The ability to successfully manage and resolve interpersonal conflict thus has diverse implications for the discordant relationship, its individual members, and others in the broader social or work network. Comprehensive apologies as tools for conflict resolution In attempting to manage a conflict, the offending person (transgressor) can perform actions that influence whether the offended person (victim) will respond with forgiveness or continued anger and resentment. Research on conflict management suggests that an apology is one of the most powerful tools transgressors can use to promote reconciliation with the victim (Fehr, Gelfand, & Nag, 2010). Apologies increase victim forgiveness, reduce anger and aggression toward the transgressor, and validate the perceptions of the victim (e.g., Darby and Schlenker, 1982, Eaton, 2006, Exline et al., 2007, McCullough et al., 1998 and Ohbuchi et al., 1989). But all apologies are not created equal. Past research exploring the effects of apology composition has revealed that comprehensive apologies—those that include more basic elements of an apology—are substantially more effective at increasing victim forgiveness and decreasing blame and anger toward the transgressor (Darby and Schlenker, 1982, Kirchhoff et al., 2012, Scher and Darley, 1997 and Schumann, 2012). Although the exact number of apology elements varies across frameworks proposed by different researchers, nearly all frameworks include expression of remorse, acceptance of responsibility, and offer of repair as important apology elements (Anderson et al., 2006, Holmes, 1990, Kirchhoff et al., 2012 and Lazare, 2004Scher and Darley, 1997, Schonbach, 1980, Schmitt et al., 2004 and Schumann and Ross, 2010). In addition to these three ‘core’ elements, five other elements have been included in apology frameworks with greater variability: explanation, acknowledgement of harm, admission of wrongdoing, forbearance (a promise to behave better), and request for forgiveness (see Table 1 for a description and example of each element). Table 1. Description of apology elements and defensive strategies. Element Description Example Apology elements Remorse Expressing a statement of apology “I'm sorry”; “I apologize” Expressing regret or sadness about one's actions “I feel terrible”; “I regret it” Acceptance of responsibility Stating that one accepts responsibility for offense “I take full responsibility for my words” Stating the offense using responsibility-accepting language “I'm truly sorry for breaking my promise” Repair Offering to compensate for or fix the problem caused by one's actions “I will make sure that I remember to call this week” Attempting to repair the damage by making the victim feel better/loved “I love you and I am eternally grateful for all you've done” Explanation Trying to explain one's actions without applying an external attribution “I was afraid of commitment” Forbearance Promising to behave better in the future “I'm taking steps to make sure it never happens again” Acknowledgement of harm Stating how the victim has suffered or been inconvenienced by one's actions “I know it upset you and hurt your feelings” Admission of wrongdoing Stating that one's actions were wrong or unfair “It was wrong for me to say the things I said” Stating that one should not have acted in the way that one did “I shouldn't have spoken poorly of you” Request for forgiveness Asking the victim for forgiveness “Please forgive me” Defensive strategies Justification Attempting to defend one's behavior “I'm sorry that I kicked you out, but I did it for the right reasons” Victim blaming Attempting to place some or all of the responsibility for the offense on the victim “If you gave me more freedom, I wouldn't feel the need to be dishonest” Excuse Attempting to mitigate responsibility for the offense “I was very busy and in a hurry” Minimization Attempting to downplay the consequences of one's actions “I'm sorry if I upset you”; “it's in the past”; “it was just a joke” Note. Italicized words indicate the location of the element in the example. Table options Each of these eight elements can be meaningful. For example, an offer of repair can help substantiate the apology (Minow, 2002), an explanation can help clarify the transgressor's intentions (Lazare, 2004), and an acknowledgement of harm can validate the victim's suffering (Eaton, 2006). By including more of these elements, transgressors can communicate a genuine attempt to take stock of their offense, repair it, and reconcile their relationship with the victim. Indeed, more comprehensive apologies appear to be more successful at promoting reconciliation (at least in part) because they are judged by victims as being more sincere—a judgment that is often needed for forgiveness to occur (Schumann, 2012 and Zechmeister et al., 2004). Transgressors thus optimize their chances of being forgiven by the victim and resolving the conflict by offering more comprehensive, sincere apologies for their offenses. Barriers to offering comprehensive apologies If comprehensive apologies are so effective at promoting reconciliation with the victim, why don't transgressors use them in every conflict situation? I propose that transgressors may avoid offering comprehensive apologies because it can be threatening to do so. People are highly motivated to maintain their sense of self-worth and integrity (Sherman & Cohen, 2006), but the act of harming another person can threaten one's identity as a good and appropriate person (Aronson, 1999, Goffman, 1971 and Schlenker and Darby, 1981). Because of this threat, transgressors are likely motivated to avoid associating themselves with wrongful actions. Apology elements require transgressors to admit fault, recognize the harmful nature of their actions, promise change, convey emotions like shame or regret, and even offer a plea for forgiveness—all expressions that might diminish transgressors' sense of power and further threaten their self-integrity (Okimoto et al., 2013 and Tannen, 1999, April/May). Transgressors may therefore choose to avoid using these potentially threatening elements, and instead offer more perfunctory apologies or even refuse to apologize altogether. Indeed, Okimoto et al. (2013) found that refusing to apologize boosts transgressors' feelings of power, integrity, and state self-esteem. Transgressors may also try to protect themselves from the negative consequences of committing an offense by responding with defensive strategies. These strategies include justifications (attempts to defend one's behavior), victim blaming (attempts to place some or all of the responsibility for the offense on the victim), excuses (attempts to mitigate responsibility for the offense), minimizations (attempts to downplay the consequences of one's actions), and denials (attempts to deny one's involvement in or the presence of an offense; Itoi et al., 1996, Schonbach, 1980 and Scott and Lyman, 1968). Transgressors might use these defensive strategies on their own or might include them in a response that also includes apology elements (e.g., “I'm sorry [remorse] for being mean [responsibility] mom. It's just been a long day [excuse] and you made me drive all the way from San Jose to Concord just to sleep here for a couple hours and wake up at 5 in the morning [victim blame]”). These defensive strategies can be temporarily beneficial to the transgressor by helping restore his or her self-worth, but may do so at the cost of aggravating the victim and hindering reconciliation (McLaughlin et al., 1983 and Mead, 2008). Indeed, defensiveness—refusing to take responsibility for one's actions and instead pointing the finger of blame outward—is considered one of the most destructive behavior patterns in relationships (Gottman and Krokoff, 1989 and Gottman and Silver, 1999). Although defensive strategies may provide transgressors with short-term relief from self-integrity threat, comprehensive apologies yield positive long-term outcomes for both victims and transgressors. For example, forgiveness—the commonly demonstrated and possibly most important outcome of comprehensive apologies—enhances victims' psychological and physiological health (Lawler et al., 2005 and Witvliet et al., 2001), is related to transgressors' self-forgiveness (Hall & Fincham, 2008), and ultimately boosts relationship well-being (Fincham et al., 2007 and Karremans and Van Lange, 2004). Given these diverse positive outcomes, I aimed to discover a method for increasing apology comprehensiveness and reducing the use of defensive strategies. Because I propose that feelings of threat pose a barrier to transgressors' willingness to offer comprehensive apologies, I examined whether self-affirmation could buffer against this threat and consequently promote more effective apologies. Self-affirmation as a means of promoting more effective apologies Self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988) posits that people can protect their self-integrity from threats by reflecting on other important values and sources of self-worth. Reflecting on core values allows people to adopt a more expansive view of the self, weakening the implications of a threat for their self-integrity. With their self-integrity intact, they can bypass defensive behaviors aimed at protecting the self from the threat (Cohen and Sherman, 2014 and Sherman and Cohen, 2006). As a result, self-affirmation yields substantial benefits in a variety of domains (for a review, see Cohen and Sherman, 2014 and McQueen and Klein, 2006). For example, self-affirmation increases relational security (Stinson, Logel, Shepherd, & Zanna, 2011), openness to counterattitudinal arguments (Cohen, Aronson, & Steele, 2000), and acceptance of threatening health information (Sherman, Nelson, & Steele, 2000). Past research has also demonstrated that self-affirmation can encourage openness during negotiations (Cohen et al., 2007 and Ward et al., 2011) and acknowledgement of ingroup responsibility for outgroup victimization (Cehajic-Clancy, Effron, Halperin, Liberman, & Ross, 2011), suggesting that self-affirmation might have meaningful consequences for conflict resolution. In the research presented here, I aimed to extend past work by testing whether self-affirmation can encourage more effective responses from transgressors in the context of an interpersonal conflict. I hypothesized that giving transgressors an opportunity to affirm important values would allow them to adopt a bigger-picture focus of who they are and what is important to them. This broader perspective would put their offense in the context of a global narrative of self-integrity (Sherman, 2013), which would then allow them to focus on the needs of the victim and the relationship, rather than the need to protect their self-integrity. I therefore predicted that a self-affirmation task would help transgressors maintain their self-integrity, consequently allowing them to offer more comprehensive apologies and bypass more defensive strategies. To my knowledge, this is the first set of studies to test a method for promoting more effective apologies from transgressors.