If you're forever in the doghouse for your inability to apologize, this research from Ohio State University will come in handy.
In two separate experiments, researchers tested how 755 people reacted to apologies and found six specific elements were the most effective.
In the first study, 333 participants were recruited online through Amazon's MTURK program (a service where you can complete simple tasks in exchange for pay). All the participants read a scenario in which they were the manager of an accounting department hiring a new employee. At a previous job, the potential employee filed an incorrect tax return. When confronted about the issue, the job candidate apologized.
The participants were told that the apology contained one, three, or all six of the apology components (more on these in a bit). They were then asked to rate on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (very) how effective and believable the apology was.
In the second study, 422 undergraduate students were asked to read the same scenario above, but instead of being told which components the apology contained, they read an actual apology including anywhere from one to six statements based on those elements. For example, for acknowledging responsibility (slide 3), the apology statement read "I was wrong in what I did, and I accepted responsibility for my actions."
These participants also rated how effective and believable the apology was.
While the study results from the two experiments weren't identical, researchers concluded the more elements a apology contained, the more effective it was. Also, participants were less likely to accept apologies when the job applicant showed a lack of integrity versus a lack of competence. So if she's mad at you for not being able to fix a broken toilet (after you refused to call a plumber), you'll obviously have a better shot at being forgiven than if you cheated.
Curious what elements make up the best apology? Keep reading.