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An Analysis of the Components of Forgiveness

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Three studies examined the construct of forgiveness. Participants responded to 12 (Studies 1 and 2) or 24 (Study 3) focus phrases in both forgiver and forgiven modes. The focus phrases were associated with seven components derived from the literature. A large percentage of participants agree with phrases in the components of relationship, new beginning, healing, and guilt release, legal and religious components tend to attract a mixed response, and condoning disagreement. Results suggest that participants have a core construct of relationship, new beginning, healing and guilt release, some also include the legal or religious components but most exclude any idea of condoning. Participants seem to have a cognitive representation of forgiveness that is fairly robust and is relatively independent of gender, religiosity or mode. However, the emphasis placed on each component may vary with the situation or whether one is in the forgiver or forgiven mode.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2002

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