A Fascinating Look At The Evolutionary Function Of Apologies And The Act Of Saying “Sorry”

by • March 24, 2014 • Psychology, SocietyComments (0)2368

We do it all the time in our everyday lives, yet we never stop to think about what is happening beneath the surface when we engage in the most common of situations — the act of apologizing to someone else.  In a fascinating new article, Glenn Geher Ph.D., a professor and chair of psychology at the State University of New York, asks: “If you are like me, you lead a typically busy and complex modern North American life — and this fact colors your day-to-day interactions.  You may run into situations like these with some regularity — as you rarely do things perfectly.  Sometimes, you just have to apologize.  As an evolutionist, I’m curious about the evolutionary psychology of apologetic behaviors. What functions do such behaviors serve?  Are there comparable kinds of behaviors in other species?  Are there specialized mechanisms that people employ to distinguish genuine from insincere apologies?”  Among the most fascinating insights into the evolutionary function of apologies is how they emerged as a way to establish closer bonds with a social circle.  Guilt leads to empathy, which leads to the apology, which leads to others’ perception of you as being an altruist, which leads to trust, which leads to a stronger connection to the social group, which greatly increases one’s odds of survival in the natural world.  You can read the full story by CLICKING HERE.

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Photo courtesy of Estes Therapy

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