Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Kathleen A. Lawler

Committee Members

Debora Baldwin, Maureen Groër, James Lawler


Forgiveness has recently become a popular focus of research in psychology. In addition to philosophical and theological explorations, psychologists have extended the study of forgiveness into physical and psychological health. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between forgiveness and rumination, as well as the associations among these two factors, health and acute physiological responses. Sixty females participated in a betrayal narrative as well as a rumination period. Two measures of state forgiveness, one measure of trait forgiveness, and two measures of trait rumination were used. Blood pressure and cortisol reactivity were assessed. State forgiveness was associated with rumination, but not trait forgiveness. Forgiveness was not related to physical symptoms, but was strongly related to depression and anxiety. State forgiveness was related to increased mean arterial pressure during the betrayal interview, but these increases were not maintained in the rumination period. High forgivers displayed a greater reduction in cortisol level, from post-baseline to post-rumination period, than low forgivers. The role of suppressing emotions and catharsis in cardiovascular and endocrine effects are discussed.

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