How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Linkage and Valence
When we make excuses, there are two things that we try to reduce: linkage and valence.
Linkage is 'diminishing the individual's perceived causal role
We tend to think in terms of a connected world, with cause and effect between the individual elements. Hence if a person is associated with some action in any way, it is easy to infer that they were somehow to blame.
Accused people know of this linking effect and will hence try to dissociated themselves from the place, the people, the actions and the events around the disapproved action.
Linkage excuses include:
Valence is 'diminishing the perceived negative consequence of the act' (Hill and Baer, 1994). A valence excuse reduces the perception of harm.
When we are accused of something, we will immediately start thinking of the 'so what' consequences, in particular how we might be punished. We hence use excuses to reduce the chance of such negative consequences occuring.
Valence excuses include:
Hill, D.J. and Baer, R. (1994). Customers Complain—Businesses Make Excuses: The Effects of Linkage and Valence, Advances in Consumer Research, 21, 399-406