Interpersonal Offenses and Psychological Well-Being: The Mediating Role of Forgiveness
Despite increasing attention to the study of forgiveness, the links between forgiving real-life interpersonal hurts and psychological well-being have been overlooked. With a sample of 456 Spanish adults (aged 18–80 years), the aims of this study were to examine: (1) whether variables related with the victims’ appraisal of a specific offense (time elapsed, frequency, perceived severity, perceived intention) and their own beliefs about the nature of forgiveness (as either conditional or unconditional) are associated to their interpersonal forgiveness; (2) whether forgiveness plays a mediating role between the way in which victims appraise an offense and their levels of psychological well-being (PWB), and between their beliefs about the nature of forgiveness, and their levels of PWB; (3) the role that two different components of forgiveness (Absence of Negative and Presence of Positive feelings and thoughts about the hurt—“negF” and “posF”, respectively) might play on these relationships. We found that adults who forgive others tend to enjoy a greater sense of PWB than those who are less willing to forgive offenses. Frequency of the offense, its perceived severity and its perceived intention were associated with less forgiveness. Forgiveness mediated the relationship between the victims’ appraisal of the offense and their levels of PWB, specifically through negF (i.e., the victims’ ability to leave behind the negative thoughts and feelings associated with the transgression). Finally, the belief that forgiveness is unconditional or conditional has different relationships not only with forgiveness, but also with the victims’ PWB.
KeywordsForgiveness Psychological well-being Eudaimonic well-being Conditional forgiveness Unconditional forgiveness
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Díaz, D., Rodríguez, R., Blanco, A., Moreno, B., Gallardo, I., Valle, C., et al. (2006). Adaptación española de las Escalas de Bienestar Psicológico de Ryff. Psicothema, 18(3), 572–577.Google Scholar
- Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542–575.Google Scholar
- Diener, E., Emmons, R., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.Google Scholar
- Diener, E., Fujita, F., Tay, L., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2012). Purpose, mood, and pleasure in predicting satisfaction judgments. Social Indicators Research, 105, 333–341.Google Scholar
- Enright, R. D., Rique, J., & Coyle, C. T. (2000). The Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EFI) user’s manual. Madison: The International Forgiveness Institute.Google Scholar
- Fincham, F. D. (2000). The kiss of the porcupines: From attributing responsibility to forgiving. Personal Relationships, 7, 1–23.Google Scholar
- Gunderson, P. R., & Ferrari, J. R. (2008). Forgiveness of sexual cheating in romantic relationships: Effects of discovery method, frequency of offense, and presence of apology. North American Journal of Psychology, 10, 1–14.Google Scholar
- Hayes, A. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
- Kaminer, D., Stein, D. J., Mbanga, I., & Zungu-Dirwayi, N. (2000). Forgiveness: Toward an integration of theoretical models. Psychiatry, 63(4), 344–357.Google Scholar
- Krause, L. E. (2009). Factors predicting interpersonal forgiveness: The relationship between forgiveness and health (Master’s thesis, Pacific University). http://commons.pacificu.edu/spp/94. Accessed 10 Dec 2016.
- Krause, N., & Ellison, C. G. (2003). Forgiveness by God, forgiveness of others, and psychological well-being in late life. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42(1), 77–94.Google Scholar
- Matsuyuki, M. (2011). An examination of the process of forgiveness and the relationship among state forgiveness, self-compassion, and psychological well-being experienced by Buddhists in the United States (Theses and Dissertations-Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology. Paper 1). http://uknowledge.uky.edu/edp_etds/1. Accessed 1 Dec 2016.
- McCullough, M. E. (2001). Forgiveness: Who does it and how do they do it? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10, 194–197.Google Scholar
- McCullough, M. E., Pargament, K. I., & Thoresen, C. E. (Eds.). (2000). Forgiveness: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- McCullough, M. E., Rachal, K. C., Sandage, S. J., Worthington, E. L., Brown, S. W., & Hight, T. L. (1998). Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships: II. Theoretical elaboration and measurement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1586–1603.Google Scholar
- McCullough, M. E., Root, L. M., & Cohen, A. D. (2006). Writing about the benefits of an interpersonal transgression facilitates forgiveness. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(5), 887–897.Google Scholar
- McCullough, M. E., Worthington, E. L., & Rachal, K. C. (1997). Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(2), 321–326.Google Scholar
- Peterson, J. (2015). Examining the relationship between forgiveness and subjective well-being as moderated by implicit religiousness and spirituality. Clinical Psychology Dissertations 3. http://digitalcommons.spu.edu/cpy_etd/3. Accessed 26 Feb 2018.
- Prieto-Ursúa, M., Jódar, R., Gismero, E., Carrasco, M. J., Martínez, M. P., & Cagigal, V. (2018). Conditional or unconditional forgiveness? An instrument to measure the conditionality of forgiveness. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508619.2018.1485829. (in press).Google Scholar
- Reynolds, W. M. (1982). Development of reliable and valid short forms of the marlowe-crowne social desirability scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38, 119–125.Google Scholar
- Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166.Google Scholar
- Rye, M. S., Pargament, K. I., Ali, M. A., Beck, G. L., Dorff, E. N., Hallisey, C., et al. (2001). Religious perspectives on forgiveness. In M. E. McCullough, K. I. Pargament, & C. E. Thoresen (Eds.), Forgiveness: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 17–40). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6), 1069–1081.Google Scholar
- Schnell, T. (2014). An empirical approach to existential psychology: Meaning in life operationalized. In S. Kreitler & T. Urbanek (Eds.), Conceptions of meaning (pp. 173–194). New York: Nova Science.Google Scholar
- Toussaint, L., & Webb, J. R. (2005). Theoretical and empirical connections between forgiveness, mental health, and well-being. In E. L. Worthington Jr. (Ed.), Handbook of forgiveness (pp. 349–362). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Worthington, E. L., Jr. (2001). Unforgiveness, forgiveness, and reconciliation in societies. In R. G. Helmick & R. L. Petersen (Eds.), Forgiveness and reconciliation: Religion, public policy, and conflict transformation (pp. 161–182). Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press.Google Scholar
- Worthington, E. L., Jr., Witvliet, C., Lerner, A., & Scherer, M. (2005). Forgiveness in health research and medical practice. Explore, 1, 169–176.Google Scholar
- Worthington, E. L., Jr., Witvliet, C., Pietrini, P., & Miller, A. J. (2007). Forgiveness, health, and well-being: A review of evidence for emotional versus decisional forgiveness, dispositional forgivingness, and reduced unforgiveness. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 30(4), 291–302. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-007-9105-8.Google Scholar