Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guest post: Why Do Women Apologize More Often Than Men?

Today's guest post comes courtesy of Che Kamal, who is a regular contributor at KnowsWhy.com. If you're interested in writing a guest post for Spare Candy or cross-posting something, check out the guidelines or send an e-mail to rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Conflict is a common occurrence anywhere. There are just some occasions where one is involved in a fight or a simple misunderstanding with another person. This type of conflict is called interpersonal conflict, which is not new among families, friends, colleagues, and especially in couples. Some issues just stir up misunderstanding, anger and eventually lead to a bigger fight. However, the problem cannot be resolved without reconciling the two. Asking for apology is basically the initial step for reconciliation and to forget ill-feelings.

Do you believe that women utter the words “I’m sorry” more often than the opposite gender? If you say yes, then you are right! According to a recent study, women apologize more often than men do. This doesn’t mean that men are hesitant to admit they have done something wrong in their part. The study shows that they just have a higher threshold over something that demands reconciliation. Furthermore, the study found out why women apologize more frequently.

The researchers looked at the number of apologies and the number of offenses that the participants had committed, and they found no disparity between the genders. Karina Schumann, one of the researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, stressed that it is not that men think they will appear weak or because they are not responsible with their actions that they are actively refusing to make the move and apologize. They do apologize frequently when they think they have committed wrong or every time the women think they’ve done wrong. It’s just that men believe they’ve done fewer wrongs.

Women are often regarded as the more apologetic ones; however, evidences are not enough to rightfully establish this opinion. To see the differences on the genders’ apologizing and reasons for doing so, Schumann and her colleagues made two studies. In one study, it revealed that women have reported more offensive acts, which could be the reason why they apologized more. However, both genders showed that when they thought they’ve committed a wrongdoing, they apologized 81 percent of the time. Also, men rarely report being offended. A further study was conducted in relation with this to see if men are just not easily offended or are they simply insensitive when they’ve done something wrong.

The second study took a sample of 120 undergraduates who were tasked to rate how severe the particular offense was. The results revealed that women rated the severity of the offense more compared to men and they were suggesting that the offense required an apology. However, this study was only participated in by a small cluster of university students and the results might not be applicable to the general population.

Unlike men as previously mentioned, Schumann speculated that women might have a lower threshold for an offense maybe because they are more empathetic and concerned with the emotions of other people and in initiating accord in their relationships. With the men and women’s dissimilar perceptions over several situations, these may be of help for both genders to get along and live in harmony. Schumann stated that men and women have different opinions in the events that have occurred between them. For instance, when one partner is mad and feeling offended, he or she must consider that the other partner might have not perceived the event in the same way he or she did.

Schumann added that instead of assuming that your partner can precisely understand and read your thoughts and emotions, you need to communicate with your partner openly about what you are feeling and eventually out of that communication a successful reconciliation may be obtained.

Editor's note: I realize this article deals only with heterosexual relationships; as far as I can tell, that's all the study included. If anyone has similar information for other relationships, please let me know!


Tec said...

"Unlike men as previously mentioned, Schumann speculated that women might have a lower threshold for an offense maybe because they are more empathetic and concerned with the emotions of other people and in initiating accord in their relationships."

Um, no. I am someone who constantly apologizes and it's more to do with feeling inferior and nervous (in other words how I feel about myself) than about the other person's feeligns, namely because I apologize for things that don't need apologizing.

Rosie said...

I imagine that's a pretty common feeling. I think a lot of people can relate to that -- feeling inferior and nervous.


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