This article compares U.S. and Japanese styles of apology. 200 U.S. and 181 Japanese college students were asked to construct messages indicating what the offender would say in response to potentially offending situations. The messages were deconstructed into minimal meaningful segments and were coded to indicate the apology strategies used. Members of both cultures reported that the offender would be more likely to respond than not. Beyond these basic norms of apology shared by the two cultures, cultural differences emerged in the use of various apology strategies. More U.S. than Japanese participants included accounts in their messages, whereas Japanese participants were more likely than U.S. participants to employ strategies such as statements of remorse, reparation, compensation, promise not to repeat the same offense, and requests for forgiveness. Given these findings, this study questions some of the presuppositions previously held regarding U.S. and Japanese communicative patterns.
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