No genuine self-forgiveness without accepting responsibility: Value reaffirmation as a key to maintaining positive self-regard

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    51 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Measures of self-forgiveness that merely focus on the outcome of positive self-regard risk neglecting the process through which offenders restore it. They may thus tap pseudo self-forgiveness where offenders downplay their responsibility for the wrongdoing. For genuine self-forgiveness, the process should instead involve an attenuation of the negative link between responsibility acceptance and positive self-regard. In this paper, we examine how acts of value reaffirmation facilitate genuine self-forgiveness. In Study 1, a role-play experiment (N=90), participants either confessed their wrongdoing to the victim or not. Although responsibility acceptance was strongly negatively related to reported self-forgiveness (i.e., self-regard), this relationship was tempered when participants confessed their wrongdoing to the victim and, through this, reaffirmed the violated values. In Study 2, a longitudinal study referring to self-reported transgressions (N=74), responsibility acceptance was negatively related to self-forgiveness measures as well as self-esteem when offenders showed little value reaffirmation, but not when they more strongly reaffirmed the violated values.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)617-627
    Number of pages11
    JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
    Volume42
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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