288 Effective Apologies

Based on research done by Lewicki, Roy. J., Polin, Beth., & Lount, Robert. B., (2016) written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

What is the key to forgiveness? What is an effective apology?

Researchers studied what components of an apology were most effective following two types of offenses, competence based (such as not understanding something) or integrity based (knowing you’re doing something wrong) as well as which type of apology was more forgivable. To find which component or combination of components were most effective, six components of an apology were derived from prior research:

            express regret,

            explain the violation,

            acknowledge responsibility,

            proclaim remorse,

            offer restoration, and

            request forgiveness.

Participants read a scenario depicting a violation of trust based on an offender’s lack of knowledge or lack of integrity. They then examined the effectiveness, credibility, and adequacy with different combinations of the apology components. Researchers found the most positive response to violations was where the offender lacked knowledge as well as the apologies with more components. However, acknowledging responsibility was viewed as most important, followed by an offer to fix the problem and an explanation.

To obtain forgiveness start by making moral decisions so when you must ask for forgiveness it is for mere forgetfulness or lack of awareness. When apologizing, take responsibility for your actions and offer ways to fix your mistake.


Lewicki, R. J., Polin, B., & Lount, R. B. (2016). An Exploration of the Structure of Effective Apologies. International Association of Conflict Management9(2), 177-196. 

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