The People Who Always Say “I’m Sorry”

It happens all the time in the big city: You're walking on a crowded street, someone slams into you, and just keeps walking. No apology, nothing. With that in mind, perhaps it's no surprise that new research suggests you're more likely to hear "sorry" from some personalities than others, reports Science of Us. In the study, published online recently in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers looked at several questionnaires in two samples of particpants. This included the HEXACO personality test, which is similar to the "Big Five" in that it measures levels of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. But, it also adds a new dimension: honesty and humility. Both groups (139 undergrads from Australia and 200 from Canada) took this test and each participant had a close friend or family member fill it out for them as well.  The participants also had to take a questionnaire that assessed the odds of their apologetic tendencies by asking them to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with eight statements, such as "I don't like to apologize because it lets the other person feel superior to me." In the Australian sample, the surveys revealed that people who were most likely to apologize also scored high on the measure of agreeableness — a trait characterized by kindness, trust, and friendliness. But, when looking at both samples, apologies were most likely from those who ranked highly on conscientiousness (a trait involved in long-term planning that we've called out many times before) as well as honesty and humility.  So, the person who is most likely to apologize is willing to be friendly, focused on the bigger picture, honest, and humble. Although the results aren't totally surprising, they are enlightening. And, they may offer some insight into why you might never get that apology from a certain someone.

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