Studies examining individual differences associated with self-forgiveness have tended to include measures that confound self-forgiveness with other hedonic traits, that is, the ability to release negative emotion following failure. In this paper we used cluster analysis to distinguish genuine self-forgiveness from simply letting oneself off the hook via self-exoneration. Cluster analysis revealed three patterns of responding to interpersonal offenses: self-forgiving (high responsibility and end-state self-forgiveness and low self-condemnation), self-condemning (high responsibility and self-condemnation and low end-state self-forgiveness), and self-exonerating (high end-state self-forgiveness and low responsibility and self-condemnation). Comparisons among the clustering solution groups allowed for examination of personality traits associated with individual differences in responses to transgressions. The self-forgiving and self-exonerating clusters largely did not differ on traits (e.g., self-compassion, neuroticism) associated with hedonic wellbeing. However, interpersonal functioning personality traits did distinguish the three response patterns. The self-forgiving cluster had lower vulnerable narcissism compared to the self-exonerating and self-condemning clusters. In addition, the self-exonerating cluster had lower empathetic concern compared to the self-condemning cluster. Our findings provide evidence for three types of responses to transgressions and insight into the individual differences associated with each of these response patterns.
- Empathic concern
- Interpersonal offenses