Writing about the benefits of an interpersonal transgression facilitates forgiveness

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2006 Oct;74(5):887-97. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.74.5.887.


The authors examined the effects of writing about the benefits of an interpersonal transgression on forgiveness. Participants (N = 304) were randomly assigned to one of three 20-min writing tasks in which they wrote about either (a) traumatic features of the most recent interpersonal transgression they had suffered, (b) personal benefits resulting from the transgression, or (c) a control topic that was unrelated to the transgression. Participants in the benefit-finding condition became more forgiving toward their transgressors than did those in the other 2 conditions, who did not differ from each other. In part, the benefit-finding condition appeared to facilitate forgiveness by encouraging participants to engage in cognitive processing as they wrote their essays. Results suggest that benefit finding may be a unique and useful addition to efforts to help people forgive interpersonal transgressions through structured interventions. The Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations Inventory--18-Item Version (TRIM-18) is appended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Female
  • Guilt*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Social Facilitation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Writing*