Apologies in Close Relationships: A Review of Theory and Research

Jarrett T. Lewis, Gilbert R. Parra, Robert Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article summarizes current theory and research related to apologies in close relationships. Eight studies examined predictors of the occurrence and effectiveness of apologies, and 7 studies investigated outcomes associated with apologies. Two studies investigated predictors and associated outcomes of apologies. Findings indicated that characteristics of the victim (e.g., willingness to empathize), characteristics of the transgressor (e.g., gender, personality), and specific contextual factors (e.g., relational closeness) influence the occurrence and effectiveness of an apology. Several factors, including the transgressor's ability to adopt a self-focus or self-other focus when apologizing, were associated with positive relationship outcomes. The review highlights a lack of consensus in apology conceptualization and the need for additional research on the role of apologies in maintaining close relationships.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-61
JournalJournal of Family Theory and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


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