Date of Award

5-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Warren H. Jones

Committee Members

Robert G. Wahler, Wesley Morgan, Michael Lane Morris

Abstract

Most of the existing research on forgiveness so far has devoted considerable attention to the cross-sectional examination of forgiveness. The few existing longitudinal studies have primarily focused on investigating forgiveness following a treatment intervention. A relatively unexplored area in this literature concerns the examination of forgiveness over time in the absence of therapy. Also, little is known about the factors or mechanisms that might encourage or impede forgiveness both initially and subsequently.

Therefore the purpose of this research was to (a) explore the mechanisms that might influence forgiveness initially, (b) investigate the factors that might influence forgiveness subsequently, (c) examine whether forgiveness changes over time in the absence of treatment intervention, ( d) examine the factors that might influence the change in forgiveness over time if any.

Analyses conducted during both Time 1 and Time 2 assessment periods sought to address these goals. Results suggested that both initial and subsequent forgiveness was influenced by factors such as the forgiving personality of the respondents, the degree of change in the relationship between the victim and the offender following a transgression, the severity of the of the offense and the efforts at reconciliation made by the offender. Results also indicated that forgiveness scores at Time 2 were significantly higher than forgiveness scores at Time 1. Furthermore, the dispositional forgiveness scores of the victim both at Time I and at Time 2, and the efforts at reconciliation made by the perpetrator both prior to and after Time 1 accounted for the change in forgiveness over time.

These findings indicate that forgiveness occurs naturally over time without treatment intervention and is influenced by mechanisms such as the victim's forgiving personality, the severity of the offense, the degree of change in the relationship between the victim and their offender and the reparative efforts made by the offender following an interpersonal transgression.

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