August 6, 2012

"SCIENCE: Men and women apologize differently."

Writes Instapundit, but the link goes to a story about one woman's apology. If you keep reading there's a small grab bag of "science":
Without defaulting to the conventional wisdom that men have to protect fragile egos, there’s an aspect to apologizing that implies defeat, which the more competitive male gender is less inclined to concede. Tiger Woods, Anthony Wiener, and Bill Clinton all had personas shaped by winning and success, and their late-coming, highly crafted apologies lacked authenticity. They seemed more driven by those self-preserving, secondary motives of escaping punishment and guilt. It felt like none of them would have apologized had he never been caught, implying the regret originated in being exposed rather than in feeling bad.
And all of that drivel is true of the apology from the woman (Kristen Stewart) that's supposed to feel so sincere! Well, there's the answer: The perceiver of the apology has subjective feelings and is judging the woman differently (and patronizingly!).

One of few scientific studies on the psychology of female versus male apologies determined that men are less inclined to apologize because they have a different threshold for perceiving offensive behavior; that is, that they don’t always get what they’ve done wrong until someone slaps them upside the head for it. 
Now, you're not talking about whether men and women apologize differently. You're talking about whether they apologize at all. And, come on, Kristen Stewart got "slapped upside the head," as you say. And, by the way, her apology — going by the quote at the link — doesn't even say she was wrong. It says she's sorry she hurt people, and what she did was a "momentary indiscretion" that interfered with what she wants in life.

Now... here it comes... brain science!
Disparities between female and male brains may also impact how apologies are shaped and delivered. Men tend to have proportionally more white matter in their heads, indicating a thick web of connections that strengthen organizational skills, spatial relations, and problem solving. But women are understood to have greater connectivity between the left side of the brain, where logic and facts are mostly processed, and the right side in charge of non-linear thought like creativity and perception. The flow of signals between left and right may explain why women are generally better at connecting emotions with language.
As usual, "science" says women are better! Considering that the article was written by a man, we do have a data point. Despite the great connectivity between the hemispheres of my brain, I see a bunch of  data points going nowhere. An actress, caught in a lie, dribbled out some blather. Maybe emotion is clouding my language. Sorry. (Could you tell how sincere that apology was?)


Fen said...

Data point: the male author is trying to get laid.

And you missed the slam - men are so dimwitted that we have to be slapped up side the head to "get it"

How about "men aren't as easily offended by the little stuff" instead?

SGT Ted said...

She's an actress. OF course an "apology" will seem sincere. Successful actors get paid well for faking sincerity all their lives.

Hot chick acresses get even more sympathy as they pout really well. She's just sorry she got caught.

SGT Ted said...

Fen makes a good point. Men aren't into "shame culture" as much as women are, I would bet.

wyo sis said...

Men and women do things differently.
Call a press conference.

Brian Brown said...

Speaking of apologies, did you see the screaming douche who bullied the young woman at Chick-Fil-A offered an "apology"?

It was more of a rambling here is why I did this.

Happy Warrior said...

Let's get clear:

'apologies' are really statements defending why someone did something and are therefore neither authentic or vulnerable regardless of the gender of the one tendering the apology.

Asking forgiveness of the people harmed by one's actions is vulnerable as the person who is asked can simply refuse to forgive.

Chip Ahoy said...

I wondered why Insty linked to an item vapid as that. I wanted to tell the author his article is crap but I had to sign in so I left, and Insty is doing a lot of that lately. I follow and then wonder what he saw in the piece. I have ad block but I'm led to obnoxious sites that put barriers to their content and then the content is crap. I'm starting not to trust his judgement so much on things like this, and now follow less.

Chip Ahoy said...

Nonsense HW, I apologized yesterday:

I'm sorry, this whole thing was my fault. I put you through extra trouble and now I must be punished. Turn away if you must. This can be harsh.

WHAP ! ouch
PUNCH ! ouch
POW ! ouch
SMACK ! ouch
WHOP ! ouch
WHAP ! ouch

please stop.

PUNCH ! ouch
WHAP ! ouch

There. Please forgive me.

wyo sis said...

I agree, after asking for forgiveness then the burden is on the offended person. If they refuse to forgive they look petty. A sincere effort to be forgiven should include an effort to make the injured party whole. Simply apologizing then going on to justify your behavior makes an apology suspect.

Anonymous said...

When the Instadude says 'SCIENCE', or similar, I think you can assume there's an implied [/sarcasm] tag.

edutcher said...

Ted is right; most apologies are about getting caught, especially politicians getting their hands caught in somebody else's drawers.

Happy Warrior said...

A definition of apology from Miriam Webster's 1828 dictionary (the most 'substantive' dictionary I'm aware of online -- just doesn't cut it -- as I don't currently have access to the OED online as Althouse does):

APOL'OGY, n. [Gr. discourse.]

An excuse; something said or written in defense or extenuation of what appears to others wrong, or unjustifiable; or of what may be liable to disapprobation. It may be an extenuation of what is not perfectly justifiable, or a vindication of what is or may be disapproved, but which the apologist deems to be right. A man makes an apology for not fulfilling an engagement, or for publishing a pamphlet. An apology then is a reason or reasons assigned for what is wrong or may appear to be wrong, and it may be either an extenuation or a justification of something that is or may be censured, by those who are not acquainted with the reasons.

furious_a said...

Women apologize? Who knew?

traditionalguy said...

Sincere or not, apologies are a necessary expression prior to reconcilliation.

The term repent is a religious word,and it means an acknowledgement that a conduct was not only done, but that it was also wrong and will be stopped.

That is necessary because one's conduct cannot be forgiven until one stops doing it.

Women as nurturers usually see value in reconciliation faster than men as warriors usually see value in their power to do what they please as a power signal.

This maybe the basis of the peacemaker Ronald Reagan's often repeated statement that the women/wives civilize men.

The Moslem men in Syria etc have not been listening to their women/wives lately.

Tibore said...

Well, ignoring the fact that Insty links to an MSN piece of fluffery, and ignoring the fact that it's really nothing more than superficial pop psychology, the question must be asked: How much is missing from the equation? How about culture, for example? From what I've perceived and understood about Japanese culture, apologies are a very central and deep rooted element of the culture and also appear (at least to a western-raised eye as myself) to be more sincere than the sort of public apology that the MSN article refers to. Wouldn't that come into play?

Of course, I posit that the answer is "Yes", and I do so as a criticism of the article. Again, the author is simply engaging in simplistic pop psychology, so I'd definitely warn against taking him too seriously. I don't think any of us here will, but it's still worth stating.

Shanna said...

Apologies offered after one gets caught are generally insincere.

I'm so shocked Kristen cheated on her (probably fake) realtionship with Rob P., who my little cousin says always looks drunk in pictures.

Freeman Hunt said...

Most articles are a lot of nothing put into words. This must be due to the article churn required to make a profit on the advertising.

Ninety-nine percent of text is not worth reading.
Ninety-nine percent of video is not woth watching.
Ninety-nine percent of audio is not worth hearing.

Estimated, anyway.

Paddy O said...

Will Ferrel offers a sincere response to Kristen Stewart's actions.

test said...

"Fen said...
Data point: the male author is trying to get laid."

I think it closer to "he's trying to advance his career". He's responding to incentives. Publishing a study critical of same sex parents results in being blacklisted. OTOH publish a study supportive of the victim hierarchy and you've earned a point in the race for department chair no matter how vapid it is.

traditionalguy said...

The history of mankind has included a sacrificial death (at least one by a man or an animal) required as a pre-condition for a reconcilliation or forgiveness.

Are there any volunteers? Who would like an all expense paid camping trip to the Afghan mountains?

Until 70 AD the Judaic Torah was built around a daily sacrificial system to atone for inevitable law breaking.

The Christians venerate and rely soley on one final sacrifice made eternally by Jesus offering up his life blood on the cross (see, Mel Gibson's 2004 film The Passion of the Christ.)

Somehow the differences between power rivals, men and women, Greeks and Jews, and races all seem irrelevent in the presence of the Christian message of grace.

Now back to the fight!

Freeman Hunt said...

How to make money with a website or magazine:

Ask inane questions: "Are you having the best possible sex?" "Is your food full of poison?" "Are insects going to kill you?" Etc.

Come up with topics that require very little writing and can mostly be compiled by interns: "Railway travel makes a comeback!" (Intern emails railway travel company to obtain pretty photos and quotes about how great railway travel is.) "Hat style." (Intern searches internet for photos of celebrities past and present wearing hats.)

Print press releases dressed up as articles: "Lottery commission says lottery is great!" "Interest group says cause is important!"

Animals: "This dog needs help." "This cat saved a child." "This evil man treated a hamster terribly." "Seals are cute!"

Politics: "Celebrity says law a good idea." "Government agency says numbers for its proposed plan look good." "You are a better person because you vote that way." "Spend money to solve problem."

Crime. Any crime with blood in it.

ndspinelli said...

My experience is well less than half of all apologies are insincere bullshit..almost rote. We live in a culture where words are just as often used to deflect and deceive than to edify. The lawyerization of our culture.

damikesc said...

Can't figure out why some people are "anti-science" after reading the babble in that "study".

Nothing has hurt science more than scientists have.

Anonymous said...

Here's a short, sincere form apology:

I'm sorry that you are such an idiot that you were offended/upset by my FILL IN THE BLANK].

D.D. Driver said...

Here is what I have observed:

My wife is far more likely to apologize than I am, BUT her apologies almost always comes with a catch: she expects a reciprocal apology from me. She apologizes, then its my turn.

On the other hand, I apologize less, but it comes with no strings attached.

What is interesting is that we both perceive ourselves to have the moral high ground. From her vantage-point she is more giving of apologies than I am. From my vantage point, my apologies although less frequent are more "sincere" because there is no expectation of a quid pro quo.

MadisonMan said...

Freeman, stop making me laugh. My officemate is going think I'm looney.

Paddy O said...

"Interest group says cause is important!"

Because I'm a critical thinker, I need a celebrity to confirm this. Preferably one who has been in a successful movie this year.

The Crack Emcee said...

Despite the great connectivity between the hemispheres of my brain, I see a bunch of data points going nowhere. An actress, caught in a lie, dribbled out some blather. Maybe emotion is clouding my language. Sorry. (Could you tell how sincere that apology was?)

Good one, Ann. Sincerely, that's as sharp as it gets.

I recently fucked up and someone had to cover my ass. I apologized, profusely, and then bought the guy a 24 pack of Mountain Dew (he's a Mormon).

That's how it's done.

Chip Ahoy,

I wondered why Insty linked to an item vapid as that.

Because (as I've been saying for some time) when you get beyond the political horse race nonsense, and focus on what he really does, "Insty" is vapid.


When the Instadude says 'SCIENCE', or similar, I think you can assume there's an implied [/sarcasm] tag.

Hear, hear! My having an interest in quackery really brought him down in my eyes. He knows dick.

Freeman Hunt,

Ninety-nine percent of text is not worth reading.
Ninety-nine percent of video is not woth watching.
Ninety-nine percent of audio is not worth hearing.

Estimated, anyway.

When I lived in the Bay Area, the word from Silicon Valley was "Everything loses 80% of it's value once it hits the web," so you're not that far off.


The history of mankind has included a sacrificial death (at least one by a man or an animal) required as a pre-condition for a reconcilliation or forgiveness.

The history of mankind has also included those smart enough to collect the decent sacrifices once all the rubes went away - check it out.

Freeman Hunt,

How to make money with a website or magazine,...

You left out calling such garbage "a major leap in how we get information" because, now, such misinformation is on the web,...

Dante said...

This whole idea that men and women are not different makes zero sense to me. Men and women have been able to evolve separately for millions of years. Want a laugh? Women are as horny as men. I've heard many women who believe that.

So of course men and women are going to have differences. What those are, a bit difficult to tell, since those kinds of experiments are probably difficult, and the "nurture" people will always find some reason it's wrong. Here is how it's obvious to see:

dreams said...

She said that she was sorry for the hurt that she caused, those words sound like an apology to me. Sincere, probably when she said them.

Carnifex said...


The women I hang around with are...but they are cougars. God bless my oedipus complex.

So let me get this straight...this author is saying men and women are different?!

I like how Crack apologizes.

Freeman on a roll. Good stuff.

Joe said...

The article is a joke; the writer actually took the "[t]his momentary indiscretion" line seriously? What a crock of shit.

Joe Schmoe said...

Apologies are like philanthropy and open-mindedness. Everybody thinks they're good at them while thinking everyone else could use improvement.

Bruce Hayden said...

Maybe it is pop psychology, but there is something to this. Partially, I think it has to do with how apologies are viewed by the two sexes.

To some extent, apologies are viewed as an admission of lack of power, or of dominance by the other party, by a lot of males. Being powerful enough means that you rarely have to apologize for anything.

For females though, there is an element of bonding. A bit akin to how they bond by sharing secrets, esp. those of the embarrassing type (this was brought home to me a decade or so ago, when I overheard three young girls (maybe 8-10 at the time) bonding by telling each other about when they had peed their pants - something few boys would voluntarily do).

I think that this sort of gender difference is one of those things that rears its head too often for comfort for many of us. From the point of view of guys - that means forcing us to apologize for stuff that is not worthy of an apology. You do it not because you really feel apologetic, but rather, just to get by. The females will hound you until you tell them what they want to hear, but then, they eventually figure out that is what you are doing... And I still don't quite get why I have to apologize for leaving the seat up, when they don't have to for leaving it down.

Shepard of Retards said...

Women hate being wrong but thats usually because they realize that their emotional justifications in their mind dont take into account fairness if the tables were turned. Gambles 1999 discovered women are horrendously ambiguous when it comes to dishing out and accepting blame for behaviors. Example man is late woman gets mad, womans late man gets mad "its not the same its different. Also I suggest reading up on men are from mars women are from venus to understand better how women process thoughts out of emotin response.