We’ve all done it: forgotten an anniversary, left a mess in the kitchen, said something unkind about our in-laws, or offended our partners in some other way, even if unintentionally. To get out of the doghouse, romantic partners have employed a myriad of strategies, from flowers or jewelry to love notes, sexual favors, and even tears. If only science could tell us which of these strategies is likely to be most effective, we might reconcile more quickly with our mates and enjoy the many benefits of forgiveness.
Fortunately, a new series of studies by T. Joel Wade, Justin Mogilski and Rachel Schoenberg published in Evolutionary Psychological Science set out to do just that. Wade and colleagues not only asked men and women about the different approaches people might take to reconcile with a mate after an argument, but also how effective each approach might be if a partner used it to resolve a conflict with them. The findings from this research suggest that the right way to apologize may very well depend on the gender of the person to whom you are apologizing. Apparently men and women prefer different reconciliatory gestures.
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