Unraveling the role of forgiveness in family relationships

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Feb;94(2):307-19. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.94.2.307.


Testing the idea that the process of forgiveness is intrinsically different across diverse relationships, this study examined the role of forgiveness in different family relationships. In 2 laboratory sessions 1 year apart, 114 families (each including 2 parents and 1 child) completed a new measure of family forgiveness and many individual-level, relationship-level, and family-level variables that have been previously linked with forgiveness. After validating the measure of family forgiveness in cross-sectional analyses, investigators performed longitudinal analyses to examine the role of forgiveness in each family relationship over the 1-year interval. Results indicated many important positive consequences of forgiveness on individual traits, aspects of each family relationship, and general family environment. However, there were also important asymmetries in associates of forgiveness across parent-child and parent-parent relationships, demonstrating the relationship-bound nature of forgiveness.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family / psychology*
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Social Behavior*