Conservatives Are More Reluctant to Give and Receive Apologies Than Liberals

Matthew J. Hornsey, Karina Schumann, Paul G. Bain, Sheyla Blumen, Sylvia X. Chen, Ángel Gómez, Roberto González, Yanjun Guan, Emiko Kashima, Nadezhda Lebedeva, Michael J.A. Wohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


This article examines the proposition that conservatives will be less willing than liberals to apologize and less likely to forgive after receiving an apology. In Study 1, we found evidence for both relationships in a nine-nation survey. In Study 2, participants wrote an open-ended response to a victim of a hypothetical transgression they had committed. More conservative participants were less likely to include apologetic elements in their response. We also tested two underlying mechanisms for the associations: social dominance orientation (SDO) and entity beliefs about human nature. SDO emerged as a stronger and more consistent mediator than entity beliefs. Apologies are theorized to be a rhetorical vehicle for removing power inequities in relationships posttransgression. Consistent with this theorizing, it was those who are relatively high in commitment to equality (i.e., those high in liberal ideology and low in SDO) who are most likely to provide and reward apologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-835
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number7
Early online date28 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • apology
  • conservatism
  • political ideology
  • reconciliation
  • social dominance orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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