Norms of apology depicted in U.S. American and Japanese literature on manners and etiquette

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15 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, a cross-cultural comparison was made of (a) types of situations requiring apology and (b) principles for constructing and personalizing apology messages, drawing examples of culturally idealized notions from Japanese and U.S. American conduct manuals. The survey first revealed that: (a) Japanese conduct manuals are more concerned with private apologies given for actions of a greater number of people in their in-group, while U.S. American conduct manuals focus more on apologies primarily for their own actions in the public places and (b) U.S. American readers are told to offer a ''sinceres doctoral dissertation at the University of Illinois and was partially supported by the University of Illinois Dissertation Research Grant. The author is grateful to Professor Ruth Anne Clark for her assistance in all aspects of this study.' apology, while Japanese counterparts strive to give a ''sunao-na'' (indicative of amenable character) apology. While U.S. American conduct manuals stress spontaneity and originality of the words used in apology, conformity to the linguistic formulas is strongly emphasized in Japanese conduct manuals. When personalizing their apology, U.S. Americans seem to ''individualize'' the message, while Japanese seem to ''relationalize'' the message.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-276
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Aug 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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