Why Women Apologize So Much

Women apologize more than men--a lot more.

And it's not because women goof up more frequently or men are reluctant to admit they are wrong. Instead, men just have a higher threshold for what they believe warrants humbling themselves to say "I'm sorry."

When researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada analyzed data on the number of apologies given relative to the number of offenses the study participants perceived they had committed, there was no difference at all between men and women.

"Men aren't actively resisting apologizing because they think it will make them appear weak or because they don't want to take responsibility for their actions," study researcher Karina Schumann old LiveScience.com. "It seems to be that when they think they've done something wrong, they do apologize just as frequently as when women think they've done something wrong. It's just that they think they've done fewer things wrong."

Study No. 1: Thirty-three college students ages 18 to 44 kept an online diary for 12 days in which they documented each apology they made, as well as each time they did something they thought required an apology--even if they didn't actually say they were sorry. In addition, they kept track of how often they felt someone else owed them an apology for their deeds.

The results: Women apologized more and reported committing more offensive acts, but both men and women apologized about 81 percent of the time when they deemed their actions offensive, reports LiveScience.com.

Interestingly, men were far less likely to report being the victim of a perceived wrongdoing, which led to the second study: Are men less likely to be offended?

Study No. 2: About 120 undergraduates rated the severity of this particular offense: Imagine you woke up a friend late at night, and because of the sleep disturbance, the friend did poorly in an interview the next day.

The results: Women not only rated the offense as more severe than men did, but also women were more likely to say the friend deserved an apology.

The takeaway: Women appear to have a lower threshold for actions that require an apology, most likely because they are more concerned with the emotional experiences of others in protecting harmony in their relationships. Recognizing that men and women quite likely perceive situations differently could help us all to get along better--from married couples to work colleagues.

The study findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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