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A field test of equivocation theory: Apologies by Canadian churches to indigenous people
Unformatted Document Text:  1 ABSTRACT A Field Test of Equivocation Theory: Apologies by Canadian Churches to Indigenous Peoples To extend the avoidance theory of equivocation from quantitative lab experiments to naturally occurring instances, we analyzed the texts of six apologies that were originally offered in person by four Canadian church organizations. The decision of a church to apologize to indigenous people for past actions created a conflict in which the church would wish to avoid the negative consequences of refusing to apologize but also those of a full apology. Using the standard that a true apology includes the agent and the acts of the offense, the analysis focused on whether the church or its representatives were the grammatical subject of acts described in simple active voice (vs. passive, a noun, etc.). Four of the six never used this construction for the offences and were thus equivocal apologies. The internal evidence suggests that potential legal liability is the primary barrier to taking full responsibility.

Authors: Bavelas, Janet.
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1
ABSTRACT
A Field Test of Equivocation Theory:
Apologies by Canadian Churches to Indigenous Peoples
To extend the avoidance theory of equivocation from quantitative lab
experiments to naturally occurring instances, we analyzed the texts of six
apologies that were originally offered in person by four Canadian church
organizations. The decision of a church to apologize to indigenous people for
past actions created a conflict in which the church would wish to avoid the
negative consequences of refusing to apologize but also those of a full
apology. Using the standard that a true apology includes the agent and the
acts of the offense, the analysis focused on whether the church or its
representatives were the grammatical subject of acts described in simple
active voice (vs. passive, a noun, etc.). Four of the six never used this
construction for the offences and were thus equivocal apologies. The
internal evidence suggests that potential legal liability is the primary barrier
to taking full responsibility.


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