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Relations Among Apology, Forgiveness, and Communicative Responses to Hurtful Messages
Unformatted Document Text:  Forgiveness and Communication 5 Specifically, in McCullough’s model apologies are theorized to lead to forgiveness, especially when the hurt person perceives the apology as sincere and feels empathy for the errant partner. Forgiveness then leads to an increased motivation toward conciliatory behavior and a decreased motivation toward avoidant and vengeful behavior. Similarly, Fincham (2000) theorized that forgiveness is a “process that involves conquering negative feelings and acting with goodwill” toward the errant partner (p. 9). Apologies When an errant partner wants forgiveness, he or she has several communicative options (Guerrero, Andersen, & Afifi, 2001). For example, the errant partner could try to explain or justify the hurtful event (Aune, Metts, & Ebesu-Hubbard, 1998; Cupach, 1994; Mongeau & Schulz, 1997), engage in appeasement or ingratiating behaviors such as buying the hurt person flowers or being particularly nice (Aune et al., 1998; Kelly, 1998), or put the hurtful event into a relational context by making statements such as “our relationship is strong enough to withstand this” (Aune et al., 1998; Kelly, 1998). While all these forms of communication can help the errant partner secure forgiveness, research suggests that the most universally effective strategy for inducing forgiveness is simply to offer a sincere apology for one’s hurtful words or actions (Boon & Sulsky, 1997; Darby & Schlenker, 1982, 1989; Emmers & Canary, 1996; McCullough et al, 1997, 1998; Mongeau, Hale, & Alles, 1994). All apologies, however, are not equal. According to McCullough’s interpersonal forgiveness model, apologies are most likely to promote forgiveness when they lead to empathy (McCullough et al, 1997). Empathy is then theorized to increase caring for the offender and, in turn, can sometimes even overshadow the hurtful event. But empathy will only arise if the offended person believes that his or her partner truly feels bad for committing the hurtful act. Thus, the perceived sincerity of the apology is critical. Research based on attribution theory

Authors: Bachman, Guy. and Guerrero, Laura.
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Forgiveness and Communication 5
Specifically, in McCullough’s model apologies are theorized to lead to forgiveness, especially
when the hurt person perceives the apology as sincere and feels empathy for the errant partner.
Forgiveness then leads to an increased motivation toward conciliatory behavior and a decreased
motivation toward avoidant and vengeful behavior. Similarly, Fincham (2000) theorized that
forgiveness is a “process that involves conquering negative feelings and acting with goodwill”
toward the errant partner (p. 9).
Apologies
When an errant partner wants forgiveness, he or she has several communicative options
(Guerrero, Andersen, & Afifi, 2001). For example, the errant partner could try to explain or
justify the hurtful event (Aune, Metts, & Ebesu-Hubbard, 1998; Cupach, 1994; Mongeau &
Schulz, 1997), engage in appeasement or ingratiating behaviors such as buying the hurt person
flowers or being particularly nice (Aune et al., 1998; Kelly, 1998), or put the hurtful event into a
relational context by making statements such as “our relationship is strong enough to withstand
this” (Aune et al., 1998; Kelly, 1998). While all these forms of communication can help the
errant partner secure forgiveness, research suggests that the most universally effective strategy
for inducing forgiveness is simply to offer a sincere apology for one’s hurtful words or actions
(Boon & Sulsky, 1997; Darby & Schlenker, 1982, 1989; Emmers & Canary, 1996; McCullough
et al, 1997, 1998; Mongeau, Hale, & Alles, 1994).
All apologies, however, are not equal. According to McCullough’s interpersonal
forgiveness model, apologies are most likely to promote forgiveness when they lead to empathy
(McCullough et al, 1997). Empathy is then theorized to increase caring for the offender and, in
turn, can sometimes even overshadow the hurtful event. But empathy will only arise if the
offended person believes that his or her partner truly feels bad for committing the hurtful act.
Thus, the perceived sincerity of the apology is critical. Research based on attribution theory


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