Political apologies and their acceptance: Experimental evidence from victims and perpetrators nations

Roman DAVID*, Pui Chuen TAM

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Political apologies have been argued to contribute to reconciliation among groups and nations but their efficacy has also been questioned. This paper examines the acceptance of political apologies, their content and the protagonists in the victim nation, the perpetrator nation and their subgroups. Guided by studies on the structure of apologies, it distinguishes 10 features of apologies, seven of which concern their content and three of their protagonists. Following the analysis of apology statements by Japan to South Korea, the paper further breaks these features (factors) down into 32 elements (levels). The acceptance of around 70,000 possible apology combinations is examined in a randomized conjoint experiment, which was embedded in online quota-based surveys in Japan (n = 2700) and South Korea (n = 3000). The analysis reveals that the content of apologies matters, protagonists matter more than content and some subgroups matter more than protagonists. The subgroup analysis showed that some within-country differences are larger than cross-country differences, which challenges the SIT. Apology statements that would be acceptable in both nations are summarised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-294
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date14 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 British Psychological Society.


  • Japan and South Korea
  • intergroup reconciliation
  • political apologies
  • social identity theory
  • subgroup analyses


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