Attitudinal ambivalence, rumination, and forgiveness of partner transgressions in marriage

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2005 Mar;31(3):334-42. doi: 10.1177/0146167204271595.


Although positive and negative attitudes toward a transgressor are related to increased and decreased forgiveness, respectively, prior research has failed to investigate forgiveness among those who feel both positively and negatively toward a transgressor. Therefore, the authors examined such ambivalence and its relationship to forgiveness. It was hypothesized that spouses with ambivalent attitudes toward their partner will be less forgiving of a partner transgression because such an event is likely to prime the negative component of their ambivalence. Because ruminating about a transgression also has the potential to prime the negative component of one's ambivalence, an interaction between rumination and ambivalence was predicted. Data from 87 married couples showed that greater attitudinal ambivalence toward the partner was associated with decreased forgiveness only when husbands and wives thought about the transgression frequently; ambivalence was not related to forgiveness in the absence of rumination. The implications of these findings for understanding forgiveness in marriage and for increasing forgiveness among married couples are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Perception*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires