EFFECTIVELY APOLOGIZING TO CONSUMERS AFTER A CRISIS: PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTANCE AND ABSTRACTNESS/CONCRETENESS OF AN ORGANIZATION'S APOLOGY

Bert Schreurs*, Melvyn R. W. Hamstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Companies hit by a crisis of corporate misconduct typically need to issue a public apology to minimize reputational damage, negative word-of-mouth, and declining purchases. What such an apology should ideally convey, abstract or concrete information, remains up for debate. Working from construal-level theory, we test a contingency perspective on organizational apology effectiveness. According to construal-level theory, concretely formulated apologies are more effective when the apologizing company is psychologically near to (versus far away from) an apology-recipient. Second, abstractly formulated apologies are more effective when the apologizing company is psychologically far away from (versus near to) an apology-recipient. We found support for these hypotheses in three experiments (and provide a meta-analytic mean of both effects). In order to optimize effectiveness, apologies should be tailored to account for the psychological distance to the apology-recipient.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-378
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Cognition
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

Keywords

  • construal level
  • apologies
  • crisis
  • corporate misconduct
  • word-of-mouth
  • reputation
  • CONSTRUAL-LEVEL
  • COMMUNICATION
  • STRATEGIES
  • ATTRIBUTIONS
  • SENSEMAKING
  • AMBIGUITY
  • LANGUAGE
  • IMPACT

Cite this