How Do We Forgive?: An Empirical Framework for the Underlying Processes of Overcoming Interpersonal Betrayal

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Karly Ann Cochran (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Doris Bazzini

Abstract: Few studies have empirically examined the underlying processes of forgiveness. Perspective-taking has been depicted as an important precursor to forgiveness, specifically by means of empathic responding toward the offender (e.g., McCullough, Worthington, & Rachal, 1997). By contrast, Takaku (2001) proposed that forgiveness is merely a means of reducing cognitive dissonance that results from perspective-taking. The ultimate goal of this study was to test the dissonance model of forgiveness in an experimental design. Tesser and Cornell’s (1991) self-affirmation method of dissonance reduction was included to capture evidence of dissonance indirectly. A series of two-way ANOVAs was conducted to examine 3 (Perspective-Taking: Recall-Self-as-Transgressor; Imagine-Other; Control) x 2 (Self-Affirmation: Self-Affirmation; Summer Vacation Control) interactions for self-reported feelings of dissonance, forgiveness, positive and negative emotional reactions, and unforgiveness. The proposed dissonance-reduction model of forgiveness was not supported; however, findings did reveal an indirect effect of perspective-taking on forgiveness outcomes. Additional exploratory analyses addressed alternative causal paths between perspective-taking, attributions, and empathy for the offender. Implications are directed toward better understanding the ambiguous nature of the cognitive and emotional processes that help victims cultivate forgiveness and overcome the psychological burden of betrayal.

Additional Information

Cochran, K.A. (2014). How Do We Forgive?: An Empirical Framework for the Underlying Processes of Overcoming Interpersonal Betrayal. Unpublished master's thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2014
Forgiveness, Perspective-Taking, Dissonance, Offense, Betrayal

Email this document to