Boundaries of apologies: Children avoid transgressors who give the same apology for a repeat offence

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Abstract

Following a transgression, apologies serve as assurances of better future behaviour. Here, we investigated 5- and 6-year-old children’s responses when these assurances were violated, with the same transgression being repeated, and the role that reason-giving plays in such assurances. Participants (N = 72, 38 girls, UK-based) witnessed a recurring harm that was caused either by an apologetic actor who gave different reasons after each transgression (Different Reason condition), the same reason (Same Reason condition), or who was present but not responsible for the damage done (Baseline condition). We found that children were most trusting of the actor in the Baseline condition, followed by the Different Reason condition, and least trusting in the Same Reason condition. Both ages were also slower to trust the actor in the Same Reason condition compared to the other two conditions. From age 5, children begin to recognise the boundaries of apologies and when they may not suffice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101264
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive Development
Volume64
Early online date21 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Apologies
  • Moral Reasoning
  • Reoffending
  • Moral Development

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