Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 375–386

Forgive to Live: Forgiveness, Health, and Longevity

Authors

    • Department of PsychologyLuther College
  • Amy D. Owen
    • Center for Spirituality, Theology, and HealthDuke University Medical Center
  • Alyssa Cheadle
    • Harvard Divinity School
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10865-011-9362-4

Cite this article as:
Toussaint, L.L., Owen, A.D. & Cheadle, A. J Behav Med (2012) 35: 375. doi:10.1007/s10865-011-9362-4

Abstract

This study examined multiple types of forgiveness as predictors of mortality and potential psychosocial, spiritual, and health mechanisms of the effects of forgiveness on longevity. Data from a nationally representative sample of United States adults ages 66 and older assessed forgiveness, health, religiousness/spirituality, and socio-demographics (N = 1,232). God’s unconditional forgiveness and conditional forgiveness of others initially emerged as statistically significant predictors of mortality risk. However, only conditional forgiveness of others remained a significant predictor of mortality after controlling for religious, socio-demographic, and health behavior variables. Mediators of the association between conditional forgiveness of others and mortality were examined, and a statistically significant indirect effect was identified involving physical health. These findings suggest that conditional forgiveness of others is associated with risk for all-cause mortality, and that the mortality risk of conditional forgiveness may be conferred by its influences on physical health.

Keywords

ForgivenessMortalityHealthMental healthMediators

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011