Public Figures like Chris Brown and Alec Baldwin might know what they're doing when it comes to singing, acting, slam-dunking, and declaring political action, but it seems they have a lot to learn about apologizing.


Karen Cerulo, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University, believes she knows why some are believable and why others are bogus.

"You want to end by saying how remorseful you are or by talking about what you're going to do to correct the situation, and that seems like a common sense approach," said Cerulo.  "What was suprising for us is how few people seem to exhibit that common sense."

She and Janet Ruane of Montlcair State University analyzed 183 public apologies made by Hollywood celebrities and public officials between 2010 and 2012, and utlized public polls to conclude the acceptance and believability of each apology.

Those in the spotlight should say they're sorry and begin and end their apology ackowledging those they've hurt, said Cerulo. They should not make excuses or point blame onto others.

Chris Brown gave a "poor public apology" regarding his actions after an interview with Good Morning America, said Cerulo. After appearing on air, he trashed his dressing room because the interviewer asked him a question they allegedly agreed they wouldn't ask.

When he appeared to make a public apology, he said he was sorry but also said he did it because the producers asked him a question they said they wouldn't...thus pointing the blame on others and not just taking the heat, said Cerulo.

However, some do know how to make a sincere apology and gain the approval of viewers.

For example, when President Bill Clinton made a public apology in regards to Monica Lewinsky, he took all of the blame and simply apologized for his actions.

"I think it becomes very hard for these folks to admit that they've done something wrong," said Cerulo. "Their tendency is to try to rationalize what they did rather than just admitting that they made a bad choice."

They also analyzed reponses in regards to gender, race, and occupation, but their findings showed these factors did not matter in public approval, said Cerulo.

"It was more about the way they phrase their apologies," said Cerulo. Many of those thought to be insincere seemed "they were doing it because one of their agents has told them they have to make the apology."

After speaking with some agents and consultants, Cerulo and Ruane relized that they sometimes give public figures good adivce, but public figures' egos get in the way and they don't take wise input.

Olympic athlete Marion Jones gained high public approval by making the wise decision to listen to her advisors, said Cerulo. She sincerely apologized for taking steroids and hurting those affected by her actions.

Puclic figures must adhere to our "cultural script," said Cerulo. They must not let the Hollywood limelight blind them from what is right and what is wrong and how to take responsibility for mistakes all humans make.

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