The impact of a victim-focused apology on forgiveness in an intergroup context

Mariette Berndsen, Matthew Hornsey, M. J. A. Wohl

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)


    Although it is well-established that interpersonal apologies promote forgiveness, the apology–forgiveness link at the intergroup level is more tenuous. A possible reason for this tenuous relationship is that many intergroup apologies focus on the offender group’s feelings about the transgression as opposed to the victimized group’s suffering. In this spirit, we manipulated focus of a collective apology in two experiments. Consistent with predictions, a victim-focused apology (relative to offender-focused apology) heightened perceptions of offender group remorse, perceived empathy of the offender group, and trust in the offender. In turn, perceptions of remorse, empathy, and trust uniquely increased intergroup forgiveness. Results have implications for facilitating restorative effects between groups in situations of social injustice.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)726-739
    Number of pages14
    JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
    Issue number5
    Early online date2015
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2015


    • collective apology
    • intergroup forgiveness
    • remorse
    • trust
    • victim-focused apology


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