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The psychology of saying sorry

New research for the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) claims that an apology makes a victim’s thoughts turn from revenge to forgiveness. Dr Peter Forster gave his opinion on this to BBC WM.

Read the full opinion by Dr Peter M Forster

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  • The psychology of saying sorry

    New research for the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) claims that an apology makes a victim’s thoughts turn from revenge to forgiveness. Dr Peter Forster gave his opinion on this to BBC WM.

    “Sometimes, the hurt is just too much; sometimes the pain goes so deep that you can’t let it go, and you can’t really expect or demand forgiveness from someone who has had a great deal of hurt.

    “There are a lot of barriers to an apology being good and effective, but sometimes an apology can be a genuine, healing part of a process between two people, or even two cultural groups.

    “There are a number of reasons why an apology might not be forthcoming. Sometimes it’s stubbornness, sometimes it’s pure insensitivity – the people just doesn’t have the awareness of the harm they’ve done – and sometimes it’s because the person feels a great deal or shame and guilt, so much so that they can’t get into a place from where they can offer an apology.

    “If someone who has been hurt can get to a point of forgiveness though, it can be for their benefit, not for the person who has caused the pain. That forgiveness is a good way for the victim to be able to heal and move on, so being in a place of forgiveness can be a good, positive thing for them.”

    Listen to the full broadcast at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02202ry.

    Studying Psychology at Worcester opens up a world of possibilities. From Forensic to Developmental or Business Psychology, there’s a fascinating array of pathways available.

    Dr Peter M Forster Senior Lecturer and Course Leader | 16 July 2014

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