Who do you think apologizes more often, men or women?
I think a lot of us might answer: Women. And as a Canadian woman I probably apologize more than anyone else.
Interestingly though, recent research revealed a curious twist for why women tend to apologize more.
Researchers analyzed the number of self-reported offences and apologies made by 66 subjects over a 12-day period. And yes, they confirmed women consistently apologized more times than men did. But they also found that women report more offenses than men. So the issue is not female over-apology. Instead, there may be a gender difference in what is considered offensive in the first place. The research appears in the September online issue of Psychological Science.
In a second study three separate offences were rated by 120 subjects on a seven-point scale. And women consistently rated the three offences as more severe than men did. Turns out that men are just as likely as women to apologize for a given offense. But their threshold for thinking they have committed an offense is higher.
In fact, according to this research, women and men could easily disagree on whether or not a transgression has occurred at all. Ouch! I’m sorry to hear that.