Superfluous apologies – an easy-to-use tool for social influencers?

Superfluous Apologies have been defined as :

“Expressions of regret for an undesirable circumstance that is clearly outside of one’s control.”

That’s according to the Decision Processes Lab at the Operations, Information and Decisions Department, The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania, US, which has recently found, by experiment, that :

“Superfluous apologies represent a powerful and easy-to-use tool for social influence. Even in the absence of culpability, individuals can increase trust and liking by saying ‘I’m sorry’ – even if they are merely ‘sorry’ about the rain.”

With the proviso, though, that :

“Some scholars have suggested that there may be drawbacks to issuing an apology. We did not identify any drawbacks in our investigation. Still, it is quite possible that the repeated use of superfluous apologies or the delivery of a superfluous apology that appears insincere may yield different results.“

See:’ I’m Sorry About the Rain! Superfluous Apologies Demonstrate Empathic Concern and Increase Trust ‘  Social Psychological and Personality Science, Volume: 5 issue: 4, page(s): 467-474. A full copy of which may be found here.

Note: The experimenters also found that ;

“ […] individuals were more likely to hand over their cell phone to a stranger in a train station (our measure of trust) when they received a superfluous apology than when they did not.” [see photo below]

Coming Soon : Getting smartphone users to apologize to their phones

BONUS (apologetically related) :

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