Self-forgiveness is often measured as a hedonic end-state, as the presence of positive affect and the absence of negative affect towards the self following a wrongdoing. However, self-forgiveness is also referred to as a difficult process. Self-forgiveness as a process of accepting responsibility and working through one's wrongdoing is a substantially un-hedonic – it is likely to be uncomfortable and at times painful. In this study, we examine two pathways to self-forgiveness: a hedonic focused pathway (via self-compassion) and a eudaimonic pathway (via reaffirmation of transgressed values). Across two studies, the data suggest that following interpersonal transgressions, self-compassion reduces self-punitiveness and increases end-state self-forgiveness (Study 1) via a reduction in perceived stigma (Study 2). In contrast, value reaffirmation increases the process of genuine self-forgiveness and reduces defensiveness (Study 1) via increased concern for shared group values (Study 2), in turn increasing desire to reconcile (Study 1), and amend-making and end-state self-forgiveness 1 week following the intervention (Study 2). The results suggest that both pathways can lead to self-forgiveness; however, following a transgression, self-forgiveness via a eudaimonic pathway offers greater promise for meeting the needs of both offenders and victims.
- values affirmation