That power and control seems to translate into greater feelings of self-worth.
We’re often told we’ll feel better if we come clean and apologise after doing something wrong but, in fact, the opposite may be true!
A University of Queensland study suggests that the feeling of empowerment which can come with refusing to make amends sometimes outweighs the relief we feel after apologising.
“We do find that apologies do make apologisers feel better, but the interesting thing is that refusals to apologise also make people feel better and, in fact, in some cases it makes them feel better than an apology would have,” says researcher Tyler G. Okimoto
During the study, the 228 participants were asked to remember a time they had done something wrong.
While most remembered trivial events, some recalled more serious offences, including crimes such as theft.
They were then quizzed on whether they had said sorry, refused to say sorry, or simply did nothing despite knowing they were in the wrong. Participants were divided at random, with some told to compose an email where they apologised for their actions, and others writing an email refusing to apologise. They then rated how they felt afterwards.
Okimoto said the results demonstrated why some people are often reluctant to apologise.
“When you refuse to apologise, it actually makes you feel more empowered. That power and control seems to translate into greater feelings of self-worth,” Okimoto says.
Meanwhile, those who did apologise experienced boosted feelings of integrity.
Okimoto says he hopes that the research will provide clues on how best to get people to apologise.
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