Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Ernest W. Brewer

Committee Members

Gregory C. Petty, Ralph G. Brockett, Alan P. Chesney


This descriptive, correlational study investigated how psychological resilience might be associated with forgiveness in older adults. The population selected was a planned community in the southeastern United States; the majority of the 4,500 residents were over 50 years old, Caucasian, married, retired or semi-retired, and in reasonably good health. Having relocated to this community from all over our nation and from foreign countries and having achieved a generally high level of success on the average, these people brought with them a wide range of life’s experiences. A random sample of 900 was drawn from the community directory. Of these, 497 respondents completed a mailed survey comprised of the Resilience Scale (Wagnild & Young, 1993), the Trait Forgivingness Scale (Berry, Worthington, O’Connor, Parrott, & Wade, 2005), and an individual profile of selected demographics and self-assessment items.

A series of t tests, bivariate correlations, and multiple regressions tested the relationships between resilience and forgiveness, as well as any contributing effects of age, gender, health, self-rated resilience, self-rated forgiveness, difficulty of childhood, highest educational level completed, highest annual salary earned, and current employment status. The analyses indicated a low, but statistically significant correlation between resilience and forgiveness (r = .339, p < .05); as forgiveness increased, resilience tended to increase somewhat. Age was not found to be significantly associated with either resilience or forgiveness in bivariate correlations, but did prove significant when in combination with other variables. The influence of the forgiveness score in the presence of the variables listed above in explaining the variance in resilience was tested using hierarchical multiple regression techniques. The regression resulted in a model consisting of the forgiveness score, self-rated resilience, age, gender, and health status as the variables explaining about 28.1% of the variance in resilience. This research added to our knowledge about resilience, older adults and aspects of aging, and forgiveness. Findings may be generalized with caution to the community and to similar populations elsewhere. They hold implications for policy and procedures in disciplines such as adult education, workplace training and development, psychology, clinical practice, and gerontology.

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