TH-P01-063 - Why tough men should be sorry: apology as an equalizer

Conflict management
Poster Presentation
3 hours 30 minutes
O'Brien Foyer
Conflict in organizations
Conflict management
Why tough men should be sorry: apology as an equalizer
M. Franc 1,*, G. Park 1
1Singapore Management University, Singapore, Singapore
This study investigated whether physical characteristics of a transgressor (i.e., facial dominance) influence the perceived severity of transgression event, and whether this difference can be mitigated by the use of apology as a signal of good intentions.
76 participants from a large university in Singapore engaged in multiple rounds of Prisoner’s Dilemma Game for real money, where the other player was in fact a preset algorithm. The algorithm first cooperated to establish trust and then suddenly defected, which manipulated transgression. After transgression, the algorithm either apologized or remained silent (apology vs. no apology condition), and participants rated perceived severity of the transgression. Facial dominance was manipulated by player’s avatar face. This constituted 2 (high vs. low facial dominance) x 2 (apology vs. no apology) between subject design.
Without apology, transgressions committed by players high in facial dominance were perceived as more severe. This difference disappeared when apology was used.
We used only male computer-generated avatar faces.
Research/Practical Implications
High facial dominance may present certain handicap in the situations of breaches of trust but this disadvantage can be mitigated by the use of apology.
Our study demonstrates that transgressor’s physical characteristics influence victim’s perception of transgression situation, which has been overlooked by current trust restoration research. In addition, it uses economic game with real outcomes to manipulate trust and consequent transgression.


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