Ideally, following an interpersonal transgression an offender will accept responsibility, work through guilt or shame, and be willing to reconcile with the victim. However, this process can be thwarted by defensiveness or self-condemnation. We tested whether humility was associated with increased self-forgiveness, decreased self-condemnation and defensiveness, and increased willingness to reconcile. In Study 1 (N = 302), we found trait humility was associated with higher levels of trait self-forgiveness directly and indirectly via reduced defensiveness (but not self-condemnation). In Study 2 (N = 194), we found that trait and state humility were associated with higher levels of self-forgiveness directly and indirectly via reduced defensiveness, and through both of these, humility was positively associated with willingness to reconcile. There was also a weak positive indirect effect of humility on willingness to reconcile via reduced self-condemnation. These studies suggest that humility, long ignored in forgiveness studies, might play several crucial roles.
- positive psychology