Self-forgiveness and restoration of an offender following an interpersonal transgression

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    86 Citations (Scopus)


    While the intrapersonal benefits of self-forgiveness have begun to be explored, there is little empirical research to suggest how self-forgiveness relates to the offenders' interpersonal restoration. Furthermore self-forgiveness research has been limited by reliance on cross-sectional designs and measures that assess self-forgiveness as an end-state (i.e., a positive self). The present research adopts a process- oriented approach and conceptually distinguishes between three possible responses to the self following an interpersonal transgression: self-punitiveness, pseudo self-forgiveness and genuine self-forgiveness. Study 1, using a prospective design, indicates the limitations of end-state measures in that these fail to capture genuine self-forgiveness, and provides preliminary evidence of the benefits of genuine self-forgiveness for intrapersonal (self-esteem) and interpersonal restoration (empathy). Study 2, again with a prospective design but based on an extended measure of the tri-partite self-forgiveness concept, considered a wider range of indicators of intrapersonal and interpersonal restoration of a transgressor. Results suggest that both self-punitive and pseudo self-forgiving responses have no benefits for restoration, but some negative implications for both intra and interpersonal restoration. In contrast, genuine self-forgiveness (involving effort to work through one's offense, responsibility taking, and self-acceptance while acknowledging failure) is associated with positive restorative outcomes for both the offender and their victim.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)225-259
    Number of pages35
    JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


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