Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 375–386 | Cite as

Forgive to Live: Forgiveness, Health, and Longevity

  • Loren L. ToussaintEmail author
  • Amy D. Owen
  • Alyssa Cheadle


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.


Forgiveness Mortality Health Mental health Mediators 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Loren L. Toussaint
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amy D. Owen
    • 2
  • Alyssa Cheadle
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLuther CollegeDecorahUSA
  2. 2.Center for Spirituality, Theology, and HealthDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Divinity SchoolCambridgeUSA

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