- Press Release Distribution

Apology psychology: Breaking gender stereotypes leads to more effective communication

From social media to the workplace, non-stereotypical apologies can help repair trust, according to new study involving a University of Arizona researcher.

( Saying "I'm sorry," especially in the workplace, can be tricky terrain. Delivering an effective apology can help resolve conflicts, restore trust and promote collaboration among coworkers.

But what works best?

A research team including a University of Arizona faculty member says that to make your next apology more effective, use language that goes against gender stereotypes.

Sarah Doyle, associate professor in the Department of Management and Organizations in the Eller College of Management, said the team wanted to find out what constitutes an effective apology in the workplace – and whether the content of a successful apology looks different depending on the gender of the apologizer. The research was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The team used past research to define "masculine" and "feminine" language, including a study from 2003 that defined masculine language as having more agency and being more assertive, confident and self-assured, and feminine language as warm, communal and nurturing. The team labeled apologies with more masculine language as "agentic," and those with more feminine language as "communal." Overall, Doyle's team found that those who "violated" gender stereotypes were seen as delivering more effective apologies.

"We found that women delivering masculine-style apologies benefited because they were seen as displaying higher levels of assertiveness and enhancing their perceived competence," Doyle said. "The men delivering apologies with more stereotypically feminine language were seen as having greater interpersonal sensitivity that enhanced their perceived benevolence or warmth."

Starting with celebrities

The team began its series of four studies by searching through a platform that is a well-known hotspot for celebrity apologies: X, formerly known as Twitter. They ultimately examined 87 apology tweets from celebrities, including rapper and singer Lizzo, comedian Kevin Hart, actor Tyler Posey and television personality Kendra Wilkinson. Public reaction to those tweets supported the idea of apologizers benefiting by violating gender stereotypes, especially for the women in the sample, Doyle said.

"The female celebrities who delivered apologies that were higher in these masculine qualities were especially likely to receive these benefits," Doyle said. "There were higher 'like' counts and the sentiments in response to those apology tweets were much more positive."

For women delivering an apology on the platform, a one-point increase in agentic language, as measured on a five-point scale, returned an average of more than 17,000 additional likes, Doyle said.

Everyday apologies

In the second study, 366 working adults participated in a scenario in which their accountant sends them an email apologizing for making a mistake on their taxes. Individuals were randomly assigned to one of four groups classified by a male or female accountant delivering a stereotypically masculine or feminine apology. Participants then rated different components of the apology and determined whether they would like to continue using the accountant. The data lined up with the results from the first study, showing, for both male and female apologizers, that the counter-stereotypical apology was more effective.

The third study involved 441 individuals participating in the same accounting scenario but asked them to respond to the accountant's apology and determine whether they wanted to keep working with them. The fourth study was similar to the third, but used a scenario involving a paperwork error by a nurse to see if using a more traditionally female occupation would change the results. The data from each study showed counter-stereotypical apologies were seen as more effective, especially for female apologizers.

Across the studies using the accounting or nursing scenarios, researchers found that, for women, delivering a counter-stereotypical apology increased the apology's perceived effectiveness by an average of 9.7%. For men, using a counter-stereotypical apology increased perceived effectiveness by an average of 8.2%.

"It's important to mention that we did not find that men and women are penalized for giving a stereotypical apology," Doyle said, "Rather, they benefit from giving a counter-stereotypical one. Thus, any apology is likely to be better than no apology at all."

Sorry to ask, but what did we learn?

Put simply, there are a lot of different ways to apologize, and it can help to think it through, Doyle said.

"I think people assume that 'I'm sorry' is a consistent and effective way to apologize, but there are a lot of different ways to say that," Doyle explained. "Not all apologies are the same, and it can help to be a little bit more deliberate about the language that you're using and the content that is included in your apology."

The research team is hoping the results can lead people to think beyond how often we apologize, and to put more focus on how we communicate.

"Much of the literature suggests women apologize too much and men don't apologize enough," Doyle said. "But I think the frequency conversation is a bit oversimplified. It's not just about whether people should apologize more or less, but how we can construct apologies differently. It's what you include in that apology that's really going to matter."

The research team also included Beth Polin from Eastern Kentucky University; Sijun Kim from Texas A&M University; Roy Lewicki from The Ohio State University; and Nitya Chawla from the University of Minnesota.



Poor nutrition contributes to poor mental health and risk of diabetes

People with diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus) are two-to-three times more likely to have depression than people without, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Current treatment includes therapy, medicine, or both. However, the understanding of the multifaceted relationship between nutrition, mental health, and DM is relatively new in scientific discourse. Mason researchers sought to learn about the connection between nutrition, diabetes, and mental health.  Two literature reviews from assistant ...

Ochsner participates in study showing aspirin may not be necessary with LVAD

Ochsner participates in study showing aspirin may not be necessary with LVAD
A groundbreaking study recently published in JAMA indicates that aspirin may not be necessary as part of an antithrombotic regimen for patients with a fully magnetically levitated left ventricular assist device (LVAD). Ochsner Health surgical director for the Mechanical Assist Device Circulatory Support Program, Dr. Aditya Bansal, was a contributing author on the study known as the ARIES-HM3 trial. The ARIES-HM3 trial, a randomized trial involving 628 patients with advanced heart failure, compared the outcomes of patients who received aspirin (100 mg/d) with those who received a placebo in addition to a vitamin K antagonist ...

Caring is sharing: Call for more openness on cancer drug trial results

Development of potential or improved anti-cancer treatments are being blocked or slowed down by lack of transparency in data sharing between pharmaceutical companies and research groups, according to cancer clinicians, researchers and consumers.   The multidisciplinary team led by Flinders University researchers Mr Natansh Modi and Dr Ashley Hopkins evaluates the literature and policy developments since the 2013 data sharing commitments were struck by US and European regulators, including the commitment to publish clinical trial results.   The agreement forged by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers ...

Calls for improved support about menstruation changes during perimenopause

Perimenopausal women need better education and support about how their periods might change towards the end of their reproductive life, finds a new study led by UCL researchers. The research, published in Post Reproductive Health, highlighted how as women approach the menopause, their periods may become unpredictable, heavy and cause worse premenstrual symptoms – including mood swings, breast tenderness and headaches. The team of researchers from the UCL EGA Institute of Women’s Health and Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh, ...

Why emotions stirred by music create such powerful memories

Key takeaways UCLA psychologists used music to manipulate emotions of volunteers and found the dynamics of their emotions molded otherwise neutral experiences into memorable events. The tug of war between integrating memories and separating them helps to form distinct memories, allowing people to understand and find meaning in their experiences, and retain information. These findings could hold therapeutic promise in helping people with PTSD and depression. Time flows in a continuous stream — yet our ...

Low-quality studies on early interventions for autism dominate the field, says researchers

Low-quality studies on early interventions for autism dominate the field, says researchers
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that autism is becoming more common in young children. In an effort to improve the challenges young autistic children face as part of their early development, researchers have focused on developing and evaluating nonpharmaceutical interventions that can be provided in early childhood. Micheal Sandbank, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences at the UNC School of Medicine, is an expert on the research supporting these early interventions, which informs clinical practice across the United States. A new comprehensive meta-analysis, led by Sandbank, shows that many low-quality ...

Study finds possible early predictor of successful transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy for major depression

A new study from UCLA Health researchers demonstrates that a novel treatment is effective in most patients with major depressive symptoms even after multiple failed courses of antidepressant medication. The treatment, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), may work even more rapidly than past findings have suggested, starting to alleviate symptoms as quickly as one week. Researchers from the Neuromodulation Division of UCLA’s Semel Institute analyzed the outcomes of hundreds of patients treated at UCLA Health from 2009 to 2022 with rTMS therapy, which uses magnetic fields to effectively “rewire” ...

Trend report: High blood pressure increasing in low-income adults; diabetes and obesity on the rise in higher-income adults

Embargoed for release until 5:00 p.m. ET on Monday 20 November 2023 Annals of Internal Medicine Tip Sheet @Annalsofim Below please find summaries of new articles that will be published in the next issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. The summaries are not intended to substitute for the full articles as a source of information. This information is under strict embargo and by taking it into possession, media representatives are committing to the terms of the embargo not only on their own behalf, but also on behalf of the organization they represent. ---------------------------- 1. ...

More than 1,100 physicians, health care professionals, and scientists boycott medical journal

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 1,100 experts have joined the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in boycotting the medical journal Nutrients until it stops publishing egregious animal experiments that could have been ethically conducted in humans. The boycott, which also applies to Nutrients’ publisher, MDPI, comes after repeated requests to the journal’s editors asking them to institute sound editorial practices. A letter sent to those editors today, Nov. 20, 2023, says “As a community of scientists and health care professionals, we have ...

Urban environmental exposures drive increased breast cancer incidence

DURHAM, N.C. – A Duke Health analysis of breast cancer in North Carolina showed that the state’s urban counties had higher overall incidences of disease than rural counties, especially at early stages upon diagnosis.   The findings, appearing in the journal Scientific Reports, serve as a national template for assessing the impact of poor environmental quality across different stages of breast cancer, which is marked by highly diverse origins and mechanisms for spreading. North Carolina serves as a good model; it has a diverse population ...


Mothers live longer as child mortality declines

Study reveals promising development in cancer-fighting nanotechnologies

Fat cells influence heart health in Chagas disease

C-Path’s TRxA announces its first biologics-focused RFP for academic investigators

Enhancing superconductivity of graphene-calcium superconductors

Federal Trade Commission actions on prescription drugs, 2000-2022

Fluoride exposure during pregnancy linked to increased risk of childhood neurobehavioral problems, study finds

The Ukraine war caused migrating eagles to deviate from their usual flight plan

Endangered migrating eagles impacted by Ukraine war

Study explores association between fluoride exposure in pregnancy and neurobehavioral issues in young children

Using magnetic resonance spectroscopy to design safer, higher-performance lithium batteries

Should your exercise goals be in minutes or steps? Study suggests they are equally beneficial

Racial and ethnic inequities in cancer care continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic among those with SARS-CoV-2

Effect of sleep restriction on adolescent cognition by adiposity

Webb Telescope offers first glimpse of an exoplanet’s interior

Alkyl-aromatic hybrid micelles formed from emergent umbrella-shaped molecules

First study from the African Ancestry Neuroscience Research Initiative identifies key genes in the brain that account for higher rates of some brain disorders in Black Americans

NIH awards Coast-to-Coast Consortium $5.6 million for All of Us Research Program

Ben-Gurion University scientist hunts for drug candidate to treat brain tumors

New Health Blueprint maps healthier future for rural, underserved Southwest Virginia

Survival benefit associated with participation in clinical trials of anticancer drugs

Expanding on the fundamental principles of liquid movement

Chemical Insights Research Institute partners with Duke University and the East-West Center to examine dust and ash from devastating Hawai’ian wildfires

NCCN publishes new resource for patients with intestinal cancer type most have never heard of before diagnosis

Subduction zone splay faults compound hazards of great earthquakes

Record low Antarctic sea ice ‘extremely unlikely’ without climate change

After hundreds of years, study confirms Bermuda now home to cownose rays

Scientists uncover promising treatment target for resistant brain cancer

Revolutionizing cancer treatment by intracellular protein delivery using hybrid nanotubes

Chemist Julian West makes C&EN magazine’s ‘Talented 12’ list

[] Apology psychology: Breaking gender stereotypes leads to more effective communication
From social media to the workplace, non-stereotypical apologies can help repair trust, according to new study involving a University of Arizona researcher.