Influence of Apologies and Trait Hostility on Recovery from Anger

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While there is growing evidence that quick recovery from stress is health-protective, relatively little is known about what factors affect recovery rates. We tested whether recovery from anger can be diffused with apologies. 184 participants performed a stress task involving verbal harassment and apologies. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: non-harassed control, good apology, pseudo-apology, or no apology. Measures of blood pressure and heart rate were taken at baseline, task and recovery periods. Participants scoring high in trait hostility displayed faster systolic blood pressure recovery when they received a genuine apology, but recovered more slowly when they received a pseudo-apology or no apology. Apologies did not influence subjective anger ratings. It was concluded that apologies may accelerate cardiovascular anger recovery among those with hostile personality predispositions.

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