Is it a bad thing to apologize?

Psychology: Why people often don't apologize

There are sentences that are difficult to say on the lips, yes, that you really have to torment yourself.

If you watch others say “I'm sorry” or “Sorry”, then you might think that these words would even cause physical pain.

It's probably not that bad. But a study now published in the “European Journal of Social Psychology” shows why many think twice about whether or not to apologize for a mistake.

The Australian researchers led by Tyler Okimoto from the University of Queensland were interested in whether refusing to apologize could have positive effects - even if you know that it would actually be very appropriate.

Inner resistance to apologies

So far, studies have shown that there are advantages to admitting wrongdoings: An apology reduces gnawing feelings of guilt and repairs the tarnished image. Yet there is great internal resistance to it.

The scientists brought 219 test subjects into their laboratory and had them write e-mails in which they either apologized for a mistake in the past with the person concerned or wrote to them that they would not apologize for what had happened .

The result: Those who consciously refused to apologize stated afterwards that they felt more in control of their lives. In addition, their self-esteem was higher than that of the repentant group.

Refusing to apologize helps with justification

And last but not least, the refusers had the impression that they were living more in line with their value system. This may sound paradoxical at first - but the refusal probably helped to justify the wrongdoing in retrospect to yourself.

A denied apology has little to do with the act itself. The gain for the ego is simply greater than the relief after an apology. Elton John, who sang "Sorry seems to be the hardest word" in 1976, shows that this does not have to permanently ruin the image.

He was also not a fan of excuses and was knighted, received an honorary doctorate from the Royal Academy of Music and is an honorary member of the English football club Liverpool.