The Apology Gap: Who’s Sorry Now? Surprise!

Recent studies have determined that gender differences do, indeed, exist when it comes to saying, “I’m sorry”!

This “apology gap” not only involves how often men and women voice their contrition, but, very particularly, on how they say they’re sorry. It’s all a matter of differences in approach and expectations. Women definitely apologize more often, and, ostensibly over more subtle, “intangibles”. (Did I hear my male colleague,mutter, “inconsequential” things?)

According to new research from Canadian psychologists, people apologize about four times a week. But, on average, they offer up these apologies much more often to strangers (22% of the time) than to romantic partners (11%) or family members (7%). The only folks we apologize to more? Friends (46%). The Journal of Psychological Science published two studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario last month averring that men are may be just as inclined as willing as women to apologize if they think they’ve done something wrong. Aha! We just tend to view “something wrong” differently!In the one study, 66 men and women kept daily diaries of offenses they perceived having committed or received- and, if any apology was tendered.

Conclusively, Women were offended more often, and they offered more apologies for their own behavior. Yet men were just as likely as women to apologize when they surmised they had done something wrong. In a second study, 120 people were asked to imagine committing everyday, common offenses. Men said they would apologize less frequently. The researchers concluded they seemed to raise the bar for what they would categorize as offensive. “We don’t think that women are too sensitive or that men are insensitive,” says Karina Schumann, one of the study’s authors. “We just know that women are more sensitive.” Sorry, is it me, or do you find that offensive?

20. October 2010 by Ruth Folger Weiss
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