Why Men Apologize Less Than Women

Why Women Apologize More Than Men

Men apologize less because they do fewer things wrong -or so says a new study, anyway!

Karina Schumann and Michael Ross from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, were determined to find out if women do, in fact, apologize more than men, and if so, why?

To answer their questions, they created two studies.

Study One

In order to find out, once and for all, if women apologize more than men, the researchers recruited 33 college students, men, and women, aged 18-44, and asked them to keep a journal for 12 straight days.

In their journals, the students were supposed to write down when and if they did something that was worthy of an apology.  They were also asked to keep track of when they felt someone owed them an apology for something, even if the apology was never verbally delivered.

Surprisingly, according to the study, both genders apologize at the same rate of 81% when they feel they have wronged someone.

So, why does it seem like women apologize so much more?

It is because women simply feel as if there are a lot more situations that call for an apology than men.

That math makes sense!

Study Two – Confirmation

Based on these responses, the researchers conducted a second study.  They wanted to find out what types of situations are reported as offensive enough to warrant an apology in the first place.

In order to test this, over 120 undergraduates of both genders were given scenarios that might warrant an apology. Subjects were then surveyed on whether they indeed thought the situation was apology worthy.

Across the board, though we do not have the actual figures for you, women rated offenses as more severe than men.  Also, women more often suggested an apology was in order for that specific offense.


Schumann concludes that because women are more emotional and nurturing by nature, the fact that they see more offenses as being worthy of an apology does make sense.

That may be the case, but more importantly, we now know the reason for lots of couple fights!

I know that knowing this earlier could have prevented some tension in my household for sure.  As a man, it will be helpful to know that what I think is no big deal – just might warrant an apology.  And for my wife, it might help her to know that my insensitivity is gender-based.

Now, this is a cop-out that I can get behind!

Source: Schumann, Karina, and Michael Ross. September 2010. “Why Women Apologize More Than Men:  Gender Differences in Thresholds for Perceiving Offensive Behavior.” Journal of Psychological Science.Epublication ahead of print.


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