Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Horvath, Michael

Subject Headings



Malpractice litigations in the medical field are common occurrences. In fact, across specialties, 7.4% of physicians annually have a malpractice claim. Malpractice risk exists for all physicians regardless of their medical training, gender, specialization, or severity of damage caused to patients. Data from nearly 20 years of research revealed that male physicians face malpractice claims at a significantly higher rate than female physicians, but that female physicians pay more in malpractice settlements than their male counterparts. To date, we have found no research that investigates why this gender discrepancy among malpractice settlements occurs. This study examines Social Role Theory and investigates physician- patient apologies to see if physician gender may influence the disparities that are present in indemnity paid in malpractice claims. Using a 2 (male physician vs. female physician) 2 (remorseful apology vs. apology without remorse) experimental design, 146 participants read a malpractice scenario and rated their levels of apology expectancy, perceived sincerity present in the apology, and forgiveness following the apology. Results indicated no significant relationship between gender role prescriptions and the perceived expectancy and sincerity of apologies presented by physicians following medical malpractice. My results found that the offendee’s age, rather than the offender’s gender, lead to differences in the perceived sincerity of an apology.