Justin Timberlake personality forgiveness abuse Justin Timberlake

Can Public Apologies Pressure People to Forgive Their Abusers?


Public apologies in the form of videos disseminated via social media, such as Justin Timberlake’s Instagram apology in February 2021, have become almost cliché.

Accusations of abuse, assault or misconduct are made against a celebrity, then said celebrity posts a video apologizing for their transgressions and vowing to change their behavior.

But do these virtual-mea culpas actually work to convince the victims to forgive? I don’t think so. I believe that these so-called apologies have nothing to do with actually making amends, but are rather a means of saving face for so many who, while rarely held accountable in a court of law for their actions, stand to lose a lot in the court of public opinion.

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