Rethinking Apology in Tort Litigation Deficiencies in Comprehensiveness Undermine Remedial Effectiveness
43 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2018
Date Written: June 28, 2017
Apologies are assumed to be an effective pathway to the restoration of victims of torts. Accordingly, initiatives to facilitate their provision in legal contexts are currently being advocated. A crucial question, however, is whether the apologies that perpetrators provide in these contexts may live up to such expectations. Do perpetrators’ apologies in response to torts convey the content that victims desire, and how may this affect their remedial effectiveness? The present research examined what content victims desire, and perpetrators provide in apology in response to personal injury incidents. In two studies, we demonstrate that a) perpetrators provide less comprehensive apologies than victims desire, and b) their apologies thereby evoke lower forgiveness in victims. These differences were explained by their differing perception of torts, such that perpetrators regard their transgressions as less severe and intentional, and themselves as less blameworthy than victims do, and consequently offer less comprehensive apologies than victims desire. Therefore, subjectiveness in victims’ and perpetrators’ perception of torts may undermine the remedial effectiveness of legal apology.
Keywords: Apology, bias, tort law, personal injury, forgiveness
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