The science of apologies with experimental evidence – “Following the recent wave of apologies by politicians, celebrities, and in particular by firms, there have been numerous commentaries about the nature of apology – in particular how it is pointless and overused. Recent research in the social science of apologies can help us understand their logic, and shed light on the purpose of the rituals of repairing social transgression. …
What does this research say about what makes for a good apology? Essentially, anything that makes the apology costly or difficult. Here are some types of apologies to consider:
“I’m sorry about your grandmother’s illness”. Recognition of the pain is a start. Demonstrating that you at least have the empathy to recognise the damage caused and an acknowledgment that the rules that were violated.
“I’m sorry – I will never do it again”. Often people will offer forgiveness for the first transgression, if the transgressor accedes to being held to a higher standard in the future. As the saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
“I’m sorry – I am an idiot”. Admitting your own incompetence means you give up some of your reputation in exchange for forgiveness. Tiedens (2001) find that voters liked Bill Clinton more after seeing a video of him apologise about the Lewinsky scandal, but then they became less likely to want to vote for him because they think he is less competent.
“I’m sorry – here are some flowers”. The more expensive the better. Offering reparation for the harm done is a way to a pay a tangible cost to make up for the mistake.
“I’m sorry – it wasn’t my fault”. This is perhaps the least effective as it is the least costly to say. But it could work if you can prove it wasn’t your fault in a way that is costly to fake.
Carol Browner (middle) speaking at a press conference with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama (right) and Vice President-elect Joe Biden (left).
If You’re Concerned About Climate Change, You Should Support Nuclear Power - By Carol Browner—Ms. Browner served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Clinton, and as Director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy under President Obama. She is a member of the Leadership Council of Nuclear Matters, an organization that is funded by nuclear-energy concerns such as Exelon Corp. “I used to be anti-nuclear. But, several years ago I had to reevaluate my thinking because if you agree with the world’s leading climate scientists that global warming is real and must be addressed immediately then you cannot simply oppose clean, low-carbon energy sources.”
An innovative and sustainable growth path for China: a critical decade by Fergus Green and Nicholas Stern – “The actions China takes in the next decade will be critical for the future of China and the world. Whether China moves onto an innovative, sustainable and low-carbon growth path this decade will more or less determine both (i) China’s longer-term economic prospects in a natural resource-constrained world that places a premium on capital efficiency, technological innovation, knowledge and services, and in which labour and capital are highly mobile, and (ii) the world’s prospects of cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions sufficiently to manage the grave risks of climate change.”