The role of forgiveness and personality on outcomes of childhood maltreatment

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kimberly Marie Taylor (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
David Solomon

Abstract: Research indicates that there are a number of negative outcomes associated with childhoodmaltreatment including both mental and physical health consequences (National Children’sAlliance, 2015; Mennen & Trickett, 2017; Arata, Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Bowers, & O’FarrillSwails, 2005; Sulutvedt, & Melinder, 2018). Given the long-term issues associated withchildhood maltreatment, research has begun studying forgiveness as a way to potentially reduce negative outcomes (e.g., forgiveness therapy; Freedman & Zarifkar, 2016; Rahman et al., 2018). Additionally, forgiveness and five-factor model of personality research indicates that Neuroticism is associated with less forgiveness and Agreeableness is associated with higher forgiveness (Brose et al., 2005). The current study inquired if forgiveness predicts severity of general emotional distress (e.g., depression, anxiety, stress) in survivors of childhood maltreatment above and beyond personality characteristics (i.e., Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Openness to Experience), and gender. This study used a hierarchical linear regression to analyze the role forgiveness has on adult general distress in survivors of childhood maltreatment while controlling for personality characteristics,maltreatment frequency, and gender. Independent variables included personality traits (e.g. Openness to Experience, Contentiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism), childhood maltreatment types (e.g. physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect), and gender in a sample of individuals with child maltreatment history. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used to test hypotheses regarding the relationships between personality traits and forgiveness. Additionally, Steiger’s Z-test was implemented to test if the presence of positive feelings toward a transgressor (Forgiveness PP) would be more negatively associated with average maltreatment, which measures frequency of maltreatment, than the absence of negative feelings toward a transgressor (Forgiveness AN). Results indicated that forgiveness predicts lower general emotional distress while controlling for type of abuse, personality, and gender. Pearson’s correlations indicated that M5-50’s Extraversion and Agreeableness were significantly and positively associated with Forgiveness AN and Forgiveness PP. M5-50’s Conscientiousness was only positively and significantly associated with Forgiveness AN. Additionally, the M5-50’s Neuroticism was negatively and significantly associated with both Forgiveness AN and Forgiveness PP. Finally, Steiger’s Z demonstrated that Forgiveness AN is more negatively associated with mean maltreatment than Forgiveness PP.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020

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