Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts/Science Honours

School

School of Psychology

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Alfred Allan

Second Advisor

Dr Diane McKillop

Abstract

The aim of the present literature review was to explore the reasons why people reject an apology. A search of the literature revealed virtually no research focusing specifically on apology rejection, therefore, it was proposed that this lack of research may be due to the general reluctance of apology recipients to respond with rejection (Bennett & Dewberry, 1994; Bennett & Earwaker, 1994; Risen & Gilovich, 2007). Given the dearth of literature on apology rejection, it was imperative that the review also examined the literature on apology in general, in addition to literature on apology and forgiveness, in order to discover which factors influence the rejection of an apology. Overall, it was found that offender responsibility and event severity influenced the rejection of an apology specifically (Bennett & Earwaker, 1994), whereas, the literature on apology and forgiveness suggests that circumstances surrounding the receipt of an apology, including timing, spontaneity and sincerity, in addition to characteristics of the victim, including age, gender, religion and personality, may influence whether an apology will be rejected. Recommendations for future research include, exploring the peoples' real life experiences, looking at the effect of specific apology components on apology rejection and also examining the difference between public versus private apology rejection. In a study by Slocum and colleagues (2006) a theory of apologetic behaviour, named the Authentic Apology (AA) theory, was developed. This theory comprised three components of apologetic behaviour; affect, affirmation and action. To date there are no published studies which have attempted to test and develop this theory. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to explore the AA theory in a different context, based on the fact that Slocum et al. (2006) had explored the difference between apology and true sorriness with reference to intimate relationships. In doing so, the present study employed a phenomenological approach to explore the reasons why people deem an apology unacceptable and subsequently respond with rejection. The study involved semi structured interviews with seven participants, whereby, participants' described their personal experience of a serious transgression. A grounded theory analysis revealed the presence of four strong themes, two of which directly corresponded to the action and affirmation components of the AA theory. The remaining themes were also found to be consistent with the findings of Slocum et al. (2006), although not directly related to the AA theory. It was concluded from the present study, that the findings of Slocum et al. (2006) are replicable to different contexts (i.e., apology rejection) and to various offence situations, suggesting the generalisability of the AA theory in research.

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