MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Gili Freedman, PhD
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Social rejection is a common, everyday interpersonal interaction, and most people have been on both ends: being rejected and doing the rejection. There has been a lot of research on how rejection impacts targets (the people being rejected), but we know less about the point of view of the rejector. In this set of studies, we wanted to understand how frequently rejectors include apologies in rejections and what effect apologies have on targets of rejection.
Using both college and community samples, we found that approximately 40% of people spontaneously included an apology when trying to reject in a good way. However, rejections with apologies were associated with more hurt feelings and higher levels of aggression than rejections without apologies. In response to viewing rejections with apologies, participants felt obligated to express forgiveness but did not actually feel forgiveness. Taken together, our results indicate that apologies may not be helpful in softening the blow of a social rejection.