When Apologizing Hurts: Felt Transgression and Reconciliation Outcomes

Office of Alumni and External Relations    2021-09-02

Subject: When Apologizing Hurts: Felt Transgression and Reconciliation Outcomes

Guest: Shike Li, PhD candidate, IE Business School, Spain

Host: Shi XianweiAssistant Professor, Antai

Time: Wednesday, Sep 8th, 2021,  13:30-15:00

Venue: Tencent Conference (Please send email to by 17:00 Sep 7th for meeting number and password)


Apologizing is important for conflict resolution and relationship reconciliation, yet often times apologies fail to restore the damaged relationship. While much research has been devoted to investigate the victim’s reactions upon receiving apology, in this paper we adopt a transgressor-centric approach and explore the phenomenon of apologizing without felt transgression (vis-à-vis when there is felt transgression) along with its affective and reconciliation outcomes for the transgressor. Using a micro-narrative procedure with full-time working professionals and an inductive data analytic approach, Study 1 explores the diverse contexts and motivations of apologizing without felt transgression at workplace. In Study 2, we provide immersive workplace scenarios and measure specific affective mechanisms of anger and empathy along with transgressor’s restorative efforts and supportive behaviors to the victim as reconciliation outcomes. In Study 3, we test the alternative explanation of guilt. Together, the research provides converging evidence of worse affective and reconciliation outcomes from apologizing without felt transgression for transgressors. We close the discussion with the theoretical and practical relevance of these results.


Shike Li is a PhD candidate in Organizational Behavior & Human Resources at IE Business School, Spain. Her research focuses on understanding the underpinnings of individual and interpersonal judgments and behaviors in the workplace contexts, and she is particularly interested in prosocial behaviors, ethics, and emotions. Her papers have been published in Journal of Business Ethics and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology while her other ongoing research has received invited resubmissions from top management journals. Shike received her Bachelor’s degree from Zhejiang University, China and her Master’s degree from London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.

Tags:Wednesday, Sep 8th, 2021, 13:30-15:00