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Recovering from a Transgression: The Importance of Early Trust Judgments and an Apology in Trust Repair
While critical for successful negotiations, trust is often broken. Apologies have been proven to be a useful approach to repair trust; however, it remains unclear whether their effectiveness holds over time. Across two negotiation studies, we examine whether apologies remained effective for repairing the relationship over time when parties have a pre-negotiation trusting relationship versus when they do not. We found that when implementation occurred immediately following the violation and apology, trust was most successfully repaired and cooperation restored when the victim trusted the transgressor prior to the negotiation. We also found this repaired trust to facilitate forgiveness. However, when assessed two days later, apologies backfired in repairing trust and forgiveness for trusted transgressors. These findings suggest that there are limitations of apologies over time, especially as it relates to parties with pre-negotiation trust.