Examing the effects of apology and compensation on participants' perceptions of exonerees.
Ivany, Alyx A.
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Research suggests that exonerees experience stigma post-incarceration that causes reintegration difficulties (Westervelt & Cook, 2010). Using Weiner’s (1993) theory of social motivation, we investigated whether apology or compensation influenced perceptions of exonerees. Participants read vignettes detailing the release of an exoneree with a video component added in the second study. Study One manipulated exoneree sex as well as the presence of compensation and apology. Results indicated that the presence of an apology increased positive attributes (overall attitudes, feelings of sympathy, and willingness to assist) with minimal effects found for compensation or exoneree sex. Study Two examined the impact of apologies on perceptions of exonerees based on the type of apology issued and the factor that lead to their wrongful conviction. Participants` ratings of responsibility and anger indicate negative perceptions of individuals who falsely confess. The implications of issuing apologies are discussed in hopes of decreasing the reintegration difficulties of exonerees.