Corporate apology and crisis communication; The effect of responsibility admittance and sympathetic expression on public anger relief
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This study investigates how corporate apologies can relieve the level of public anger under a crisis situation. A total of 147 undergraduate students read a fictional news story depicting an oil spill accident and they read one of four corporate apology statements as a combination of responsibility admittance (active vs. passive) and sympathetic expression (high vs. low). People's anger levels toward the company were measured before and after reading apology statement and compared. This study found that an apology statement with active responsibility is more likely to relieve public anger than that with passive responsibility. However, there was no significant difference on public anger relief between the group who read highly sympathetic apology and the one who read low sympathetic apology. There was no interaction effect between responsibility admittance and sympathetic expression of corporate apology on public anger relief.