How acts of forgiveness restore a sense of justice: Addressing status/power and value concerns raised by transgressions

Michael Wenzel, Tyler Okimoto

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    77 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Commonly it is understood that forgiveness means sacrificing justice. However, the present study shows that the act of forgiving can increase a sense of justice, which in turn facilitates benevolent sentiments towards the offender. University students (N = 88) imagined themselves as victims and, after the offender either did or did not offer an apology, they either were or were not instructed to express their forgiveness to the offender (via an email). Results showed that, irrespective of apology, the expression of forgiveness led to a greater sense of justice in victims, mediated via feelings of status/power and the perception of a value consensus with the offender. The feeling of justice further mediated the effects of the forgiveness expression in terms of reducing hostile emotions, revenge motivation and retributive attitudes, as well as increasing the willingness to reconcile with the offender.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)401-417
    Number of pages17
    JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
    Volume40
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

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