Making Up Is Hard

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Science  24 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6012, pp. 1725
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6012.1725-c

The trust game—(i) player 1 gives €10 to player 2; (ii) that amount of money is tripled; and (iii) player 2 decides how much of the €30 is given back to player 1—provides an experimental setting in which the aftermath of a breach of trust can be studied. De Cremer et al. show that when students in the role of player 1 were treated unfairly (for instance, when receiving only €5), they judged an apology from player 2 as being less valued and less apt to induce reconciliation when the apology was actually received in comparison to a scenario where they only imagined receiving one. This disconnect also influenced their behavior; the students who received the apology were less trusting in a second round of the game, whereas those who had imagined the receipt of an apology were more willing to resume a trusting stance. Why? One possibility is that mental simulation may have enabled a more effective repair of social status via a public acknowledgment of the transgression.

Psychol. Sci. 10.1177/0956797610391101 (2010).

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