Previous studies have shown that when a recipient suffers from financial harm, allocators can use repair strategies that address financial or relational interests to promote relationship repair. Research to date, however, has neglected to study the effects of financial and relational strategies on relationship preservation simultaneously. In the present contribution, we examine this question. Based on the equality norm, we hypothesized that a financial compensation that fails to redress the harm suffered by the recipient (i.e., undercompensation) will be less effective in preserving a relationship than a financial compensation that do redress it (i.e., equal compensation and overcompensation). Moreover, we expected that relational strategies (i.e., apologies) would promote relationship preservation in contexts where the financial compensation alone is insufficient to redress the harm to the recipient, thus in cases of undercompensation. The results of a pilot study and a lab experiment using the dictator game confirmed our hypotheses. Consequently, our studies demonstrate that even in purely economic settings, relational strategies (i.e., apologies) can facilitate relationship preservation over and above financial strategies (i.e., financial compensation).
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Although previous research on apologies has shown that apologies can have many beneficial effects on victims' responses, the dyadic nature of the apology process has largely been ignored. As a consequence, very little is known about the congruence between perpetrators' willingness to apologize and victims' willingness to receive an apology. In three experimental studies we showed that victims mainly want to receive an apology after an intentional transgression, whereas perpetrators want to offer an apology particularly after an unintentional transgression. As expected, these divergent apologetic needs among victims and perpetrators were mediated by unique emotions: guilt among perpetrators and anger among victims. These results suggest that an apology serves very different goals among victims and perpetrators, thus pointing at an apology mismatch.