Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Julie Hicks Patrick
Current literature on apology indicates that men and women differ in the types of apologies they offer and accept. In a recent study, Whited, Wheat, and Larkin (2010) showed that males and females may also experience differing physiological benefits following an apology. The purpose of the current study was to replicate the experimental study by Whited et al. and extend it by examining two different types of apologies. This study employed a 2 (men, women) X 3 (elaborate apology, simple apology, no apology) between subjects design to determine whether sex of participant and type of apology influenced the rate of cardiovascular and affective recovery from a standard experimental transgression. Seventy-Seven participants performed a mental arithmetic task during which they were verbally harassed by the experimenter. Following the task/verbal harassment, participants received either an elaborate apology, a simple apology, or no apology from the experimenter, followed by a 10-minute recovery period. Blood pressure [systolic (SBP), diastolic (DBP), mean arterial (MAP)], heart rate (HR), and heart rate variability (HF-HRV) were measured throughout the experiment. Findings indicated that participant sex and type of apology did not influence SBP, DBP, MAP, or HR recovery. However, a significant type of apology by sex of participant interaction was detected for a measure of parasympathetic nervous system recovery, HF-HRV. Women randomized to the elaborate apology condition recovered more quickly than women in the simple apology condition, and men in the simple apology condition recovered more quickly than women in the simple apology condition. Although findings failed to replicate the work of Whited et al., new clues were discovered regarding how men and women respond to different types of apologies.
Stephenson, Daniel, "The Physiology of Apology: An Investigation into Potential Sex Differences" (2016). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 6721.