If you think you hear women saying “I’m sorry” more than men, you’re right. Women apologize more often than men do, according to a new study.
But it’s not that men are reluctant to admit wrongdoing, the study shows. It’s just that they have a higher threshold for what they think warrants reparation. When the researchers looked at the number of apologies relative to the number of offenses the participants perceived they had committed, the researchers saw no differences between the genders.
“Men aren’t actively resisting apologizing because they think it will make them appear weak or because they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions,” said study researcher Karina Schumann, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. “It seems to be that when they think they’ve done something wrong they do apologize just as frequently as when women think they’ve done something wrong. It’s just that they think they’ve done fewer things wrong.”
The article, however, does not elaborate on why women are conditioned to believe they have offended more often than men. I suspect that this is part of the same set of cultural values that encourages women to take less space (i.e be thin no matter the price you pay for it), be less visible (i.e. dress accordingly and do not bring attention to yourself), be quiet (or risk being labeled as a "trouble maker”) and also, the same cultural mindset that encourages women to be “nurturing”.
We are constantly told (in subtle and not so subtle ways) to care for other people’s opinions and inputs, is it a surprise that we would also apologize when we perceive that our actions or expressions are not approved?
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