Apology and Psychology

Attorneys, Apologies, and Settlement Levers

This paper empirically explores how attorneys respond to apologies offered in litigation as they advise claimants about settlement, and compares the reactions of attorneys to those of lay litigants. While there is evidence that apologies influence claimants in ways that are likely to make settlement more likely, the research presented here demonstrates that attorneys react differently to apologies than do claimants. While attorneys understand the information conveyed by apologies in ways that are strikingly similar to claimants, attorneys’ judgments about settlement when apologies are offered diverge from those of claimants. The paper explores the implications of these effects for attorneys counseling clients in cases in which apologies are offered or desired and for the role of mediation in resolving disputes.


Jennifer K. Robbennolt, Attorneys, Apologies, and Settlement Negotiation, 13 Harv. Negot. L. Rev. 349 (2008).

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