Article | Social Psychological & Personality Science

I'm Sorry About the Rain! Superfluous Apologies Demonstrate Empathic Concern and Increase Trust

by Alison Wood Brooks, Hengchen Dai and Maurice E. Schweitzer

Abstract

Existing apology research has conceptualized apologies as a device to rebuild relationships following a transgression. As a result, apology research has failed to investigate the use of apologies for outcomes for which individuals are obviously not culpable (e.g., apologies for heavy traffic or bad weather). In this paper, we define superfluous apologies as expressions of regret for an undesirable circumstance for which the apologizer is clearly not responsible. Across four studies, we find that issuing a superfluous apology demonstrates empathic concern, which motivates an increase in trust and liking.

Keywords: superfluous apology; apology; trust; benevolence-based trust; empathy; stochastic trust game; Trust; Emotions; Societal Protocols;

Citation:

Brooks, Alison Wood, Hengchen Dai, and Maurice E. Schweitzer. "I'm Sorry About the Rain! Superfluous Apologies Demonstrate Empathic Concern and Increase Trust." Social Psychological & Personality Science (in press).