Two pathways to self-forgiveness: A hedonic path via self-compassion and a eudaimonic path via the reaffirmation of violated values

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    Abstract

    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)515-536
    Number of pages22
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
    Volume56
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2017

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