Personological predictors of forgiveness: An investigation of a process model

Melanie Lynne Harris


Recent research has indicated a growing interest in forgiveness as a psychological process and as an issue in clinical endeavors. Theoretical models have been suggested and are being investigated empirically. In addition, clinical treatments have been researched. Results indicate that forgiveness has psychological benefits. In addition, it seems that, while some people increase cognitions, affects, and behaviors associated with forgiveness during the treatments studied, others do not. This study, based on a model of the forgiveness process proposed by Enright and the Human Development Study Group (1991), was an investigation of personal attributes that might predict individual differences in the use of forgiveness as an interpersonal strategy. Undergraduate students $(n=255)$ completed questionnaires measuring forgiveness, attachment dimensions (secure, preoccupied, fearful, dismissing), empathy, religious behaviors, and personal needs (affiliation, aggression, defendence, dominance, succorance, nurturance). Multiple regression equations were used to explore correlations between individual variables and forgiveness; structural equation modeling was employed to test the goodness of fit of a model encompassing all variables. Responses about forgiveness were based on modifications of two vignettes from the Defining Issues Test. Participants were systematically assigned to vignette groups. A significant difference in forgiveness means was found between the two vignette groups. In addition, both groups' forgiveness means were markedly below those from the sample on which the instrument was normed. The forgiveness model was found to fit the data adequately and met minimally acceptable criteria.