Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Women Apologise More Frequently Than Men Do

Jack Dikian

Jan 2011

Despite wide acceptance of the stereotype that women apologize more readily than men, there is little systematic evidence to support this stereotype or its supposed bases.

Researcher Karina Schumann, from the University of Waterloo, Department of Psychology, Canada confirms that women tend to apologize more frequently than men do, but there's a curious twist as to why this is the case.

In the first study of two participants self-reported offences and apologies over a 12-day period. That is, they reported on offences they committed or experienced and whether an apology had been offered. Women reported offering more apologies than men, but they also reported committing more offences.

There was no gender difference in the proportion of offenses that prompted apologies. This finding suggests that men apologize less frequently than women because they have a higher threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior. So the issue is not necessarily female over-apology.

In the second study, the researchers tested the threshold hypothesis by asking participants to evaluate both imaginary and recalled offenses (3 separate offences were rated by 120 subjects on a seven-point scale). As predicted, men rated the offenses as less severe than women did. These different ratings of severity predicted both judgments of whether an apology was deserved and actual apology behavior.

So, in fact, according to this research, women and men could easily disagree on whether or not a transgression has occurred at all.

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