The impact of voluntariness of apologies on victims’ responses in restorative justice: Findings of a quantitative study
Psychiatry, Psychology and Law
Taylor & Francis
School of Arts and Humanities
Apologies are ordered in law without certainty about whether or not recipients perceive ordered and voluntary apologies differently. This exploratory study investigates whether or not the voluntariness of apologies influences recipients’ perceptions of their sincerity, acceptance of apologies, willingness to forgive and intended retributive behaviour. We manipulated the voluntariness of apologies whilst considering offender (age, gender, ethnicity and prior wrongful behaviour) and offence (seriousness) characteristics in 3 studies (ns = 164, 121, 236). Participants adopting the role of a hypothetical victim received either a voluntary or an ordered apology. The voluntary apologies were found to have a significantly more positive impact than the ordered apologies on acceptance and perception of sincerity in all 3 studies and on forgiveness in 2 studies, but did not significantly change participants’ retributive behaviour in any study. Age was the only other variable found to make a significant difference, with younger offenders’ apologies being rated as sincerer.