Dimensions of forgiveness: The views of laypersons

Academic Article


  • Many conceptualizations of forgiveness currently exist in the forgiveness literature. The present study adds another perspective to the forgiveness discussion by investigating lay definitions of forgiveness, as well as reasons for forgiveness and nonforgiveness. In Study 1, undergraduate students completed a questionnaire packet in which they provided three narratives of interpersonal offense: a time when they had been hurt and then forgave the offender, a time when they had been hurt and did not forgive, and a time when they had hurt someone else and were forgiven. Respondents were also asked questions about their conceptualization of forgiveness and the factors that influence their decisions to forgive or not forgive. In Study 2, community adults participated in interviews during which they described a time when they had been betrayed or hurt. Following their story, participants answered questions about their definitions of and motivations for forgiveness. A number of important themes in forgiveness definition and motivation are identified, and important similarities and differences between the undergraduate and community samples are discussed. In particular, it is noted that primary motivations for forgiveness appear to be largely self-focused, rather than altruistic.
  • Pubmed Id

  • 22271379
  • Author List

  • Younger JW; Piferi RL; Jobe RL; Lawler KA
  • Start Page

  • 837
  • End Page

  • 855
  • Volume

  • 21