By Thomas Carpenter, Robert Carlisle, and Jo-Ann Tsang
The Journal of Positive Psychology
Volume 9, Issue 5, 2014
Two studies examined whether conciliatory behavior aids self-forgiveness and whether it does so in part by making it seem more morally appropriate. Participants in Study 1 (n = 269) completed an offense-recall procedure; participants in Study 2 (n = 208) imagined a social transgression under conciliatory behavior (yes, no) and receipt of forgiveness (no, ambiguous, yes) conditions. Conciliatory behavior predicted (Study 1) and caused (Study 2) elevated self-forgiveness and increased perceptions of the moral appropriateness of self-forgiveness. Perceived morality consistently mediated the effect of conciliatory behavior on self-forgiveness. Received forgiveness and guilt were considered as additional mechanisms, but received mixed support. Results suggest that conciliatory behavior may influence self-forgiveness in part by satisfying moral prerequisites for self-forgiveness.
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