The sincerity of an apology is often critical for it to be viewed positively by victims. For collective apologies, we argue that sincerity takes on a particular meaning: It is a function of the apology’s perceived representativeness for the offender group’s will or sentiment. Consistent with this notion, when an apologetic (vs. nonapologetic) message was democratically chosen (Study 1) or explicitly endorsed by the majority of the offending outgroup (Study 2), it was considered more sincere and, through this, led to more forgiveness. Furthermore, while disagreement about an apology within the offender group reduced its perceived representativeness and sincerity, this was less so when the dissenters could be subtyped: when disagreement was correlated with an existing subgroup within the offending outgroup (Study 3) and in line with expectations for that subgroup (Study 4). This research shows that victim group members consider intragroup processes within the offending outgroup for attributions of sincerity.
- collective apologies
- intergroup processes