Victim-Focused Political Apology Predicts Political Support via Perceived Sincerity, Trust and Positive Emotional Climate: The Case of the 2018 Bushfire in Attica
Political leaders tend to apologize for wrongdoings. This study focuses on a disaster that occurred on July 2018 in east Attica, Greece, where wildfires destroyed houses and left dozens of people dead. Two pilot studies and one main study were conducted testing perceptions of apology as sincere, perceived trust, positive emotional climate and participants’ support towards the governmental policies. Participants (N = 180 for the two pilot studies, N = 222 for the main study) were recruited from the disaster zone of east Attica. The focus is on two key forms of political apology, a self or offender-focused apology and a self-other or victim-focused apology. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the conditions equivalent to each of the two forms of apology, that is either in a victim-focused apology condition or an offender-focused apology, or a control condition, where a neutral image was shown to participants. Results showed a positive association between victim-focused apology, compared to offender-focused apology, and political support towards the government via increased perceived sincerity, trust and positive emotional climate. Political and psychological implications related to different forms of public apologies are discussed.