Science Reveals the Best Way to Say ‘I’m Sorry’

What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Two new studies suggest an apology is complex -- at least if you want it to be effective.

Merriam-Webster defines “apology” as “a statement saying that you are sorry about something” or “an expression of regret for having done or said something wrong.”

But two new studies suggest an apology is more complex than that — at least if you want it to be effective.

Researchers from Ohio State University and Eastern Kentucky University put six components of an apology to the test. They concluded that some of those components are more crucial than others in effective apologies.

The researchers concluded that the six apology components — in order of importance, with some of the items finishing in a tie —  are:

  • Acknowledgment of responsibility
  • Offer of repair
  • Expression of regret
  • Explanation of what went wrong
  • Declaration of repentance
  • Request for forgiveness

In two separate experiments involving a total of 755 people, the researchers tested out apologies that contained anywhere from one to six of these components. One experiment involved people who were recruited online, and the other involved undergraduate students.

All of the participants read the same scenario in which a candidate was interviewing for a job in an accounting department. The candidate was apologizing after the interviewer confronted the candidate about having filed an incorrect tax return at a prior job, understating the client’s capital gains income.

The study results, published in the May issue of the journal Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, show that the most important apology component is acknowledgement of responsibility.

Lead study author Roy Lewicki, an OSU professor emeritus of management and human resources, explains in a news release that this means “say it is your fault, that you made a mistake.”

The second-most effective component is an offer of repair. As Lewicki puts it:

“One concern about apologies is that talk is cheap. But by saying, ‘I’ll fix what is wrong,’ you’re committing to take action to undo the damage.”

The third-most effective component is essentially a three-way tie between expression of regret, explanation of what went wrong and declaration of repentance.

That leaves a request for forgiveness as the least effective component.

What have you found to be the most important ingredient in an apology? Share your thoughts with us below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: 5 Simple Ways to Help Your Kids Build Good Credit

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,005 more deals!