Do Apologies Matter in Bankruptcy? New Study from Profs Lawless and Robbennolt in WSJ

Monday, February 18, 2013

Professors Robert Lawless and Jennifer Robbennolt’s recent study on apologies in bankruptcy cases is featured in the Wall Street Journal online edition.

The study tested 137 bankruptcy judges to see whether they were more likely to approve a repayment plan if the debtors apologized. The study determined that 40.6% of judges who heard an apology approved the plan compared with 34.4% of judges who approved plans submitted without an apology.

Lawless points out that that’s not a statistically significant divide. But what was significant, he said, is that judges who heard the apology felt like the family members would be more likely to manage their finances in the future.

“Our findings suggest, perhaps not surprisingly, that judges’ decisions can be complex and multidimensional,” the professors wrote. “Law matters, but so do other things.”

WSJ article
Full paper on SSRN