Benefits of apology for offenders: the effects of victim presence and coercion on apologies
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Offenders in some restorative justice programs are required to offer an apology as a condition of successful completion of the restorative justice procedure, or else return to court. Apologies can be required even when victims do not attend the restorative justice procedure. Apologising can result in several benefits for apologisers, but previous research suggests that coercion and lack of victim presence in restorative justice procedures may reduce those benefits. Participants (n = 120) took part in a deceptive live study designed to elicit confessions for a transgression and subsequent apologies. In this study, I manipulated coercion (Coerced, Not coerced) and victim presence (Direct, Surrogate, Ambiguous), to test their effects on the outcome benefits that offenders derived from offering an apology. Findings indicated that victim presence and coercion significantly impact outcome benefits for apologisers, including: perceptions of personal responsibility, accountability for consequences, transgression exaggeration and procedural fairness judgments. Implications for restorative justice programs are discussed.