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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Research on religion/spirituality and forgiveness: A meta-analytic review.

By Don Davis and others
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, Vol 5(4), Nov 2013, 233-241.
doi: 10.1037/a0033637


In the present article, we review the literature on religion/spirituality (R/S) and forgiveness using meta-analysis. R/S was positively related to trait forgivingness (i.e., across relationships and situations; r = .29), state forgiveness (i.e., of a specific offense; r = .15), and self-forgiveness (r = .12). Contextual measures of R/S more proximal to the forgiveness process were more strongly related to state forgiveness than were dispositional measures of R/S. Measures of one’s relationship with the sacred were more strongly related to self-forgiveness than were dispositional R/S measures. We discuss implications for next steps in the study of R/S and forgiveness.


Until the early 1990s, forgiveness had been studied primarily by philosophers and theologians, and thus forgiveness was primarily conceptualized as a philosophical or religious construct. Since that time, however, the psychological study of forgiveness has expanded rapidly (for a recent review, see Fehr, Gelfand, & Nag, 2010).

Forgiveness has been associated with a variety of benefits for physical health, mental health, and relationships (McCullough, Root, Tabak, & Witvliet, 2009), primarily through the reduction of stress (Worthington & Scherer, 2004).

Given the numerous personal and social benefits of forgiveness, psychologists have sought to understand factors that might promote or hinder forgiveness.

One factor that has received considerable attention in the psychological literature on forgiveness is religion/spirituality (R/S).

In the present article, we provide an overview of trends in research on R/S and forgiveness.

Recently, research has shifted toward more fluid and contextual accounts of how R/S influences forgiveness.

We conducted a meta-analytic review to explore the relationship between R/S and forgiveness, and we examined R/S measurement moderators based on these theoretical shifts in the field.

The entire article is here.

Thanks to Ken Pope for this article.
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