How Often Do You Apologize?

We were asked for our take on a poll that was conducted in the US. The survey was commissioned by a jewelry company who found that a substantial portion of their customer base purchased jewelry as a way to apologize.

7,590 Americans were interviewed on a range of questions about apologizing.

According to the poll, there appears to be a correlation between how frequently we say sorry and our marital status or income level—, data that would be relevant to a jewelry company looking to leverage that particular target group.

Two of the more interesting findings were:

Married people extend apologies more readily, and almost twice as often as single and divorced people.

The more you earn, the more you apologize and vice-versa. The more you apologize, the more you earn.

So we asked our resident expert Peter F. Goolpacy to comment on the jewelry company's findings and perhaps offer some form of explanation.

Although he didn't have access to the survey questions and raw data for each category of questions, he was able to offer some preliminary interpretations of the findings.

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With respect to married couples, Peter says, there are a few explanations that we believe are entirely consistent with what we would expect from people in these situations.

Married couples have a far more significant personal commitment to maintaining a healthy relationship. For one thing they share the burden of spending much more time together and are more likely to be affected by the unpleasant circumstances surrounding an unresolved argument.

Married couples are also more likely to have children (we suspect a larger portion of the 'married' sample fits this category), so there are added motivations for resolving fights and saying sorry for the benefit of the kids. Thirdly, married couples have come to learn, by experience, more effective conflict management practices, many of which involve some form of apology.

With respect to wealth, Peter believes that there are two possible interpretations.

The first being that wealthy people are more likely to apologize is in part explained by their status and education, which infer a set of social skills that explain their propensity to accept responsibility and therefore apologize more often. On the other hand, he offers another more cynical explanation based on another set of pressures—if arguments get out of control they can lead to very expensive divorces. All of us here at PA are more persuaded by the first explanation.

The reverse correlation, that people who apologize tend to be wealthier, can be explained with reference to our research on business apologies.

For many reasons covered on this site, business apologies work and typically lead to satisfied customers and better, more successful business practices. It would logically follow that successful businessmen and women are more likely to emulate many of the same principles and behavior in their personal life. We've also discovered that these apology principles also apply in the medical profession following malpractice cases.

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From the findings of a simple survey commissioned by a jewelry company to I'm Sorry laws that are gaining momentum within the medical community, we learn that extending a proper apology is simply a best-practice for a happy life and successful relationships. So whether you're single or married, rich or poor...apologize!

And for those of you out there with a couple of bucks to spare, do as thousands of others have done, go to and include that piece of jewelry along with your apology—apparently adding this particular special touch has a magical effect on relationships.

Check out other ways to apologize and different romantic ideas