Forgiveness and Health: A Review and Theoretical Exploration of Emotion Pathways

Charlotte V O Witvliet, Michael McCullough

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This chapter addresses the possible health connections of forgiveness, which is defined as an unusual expression of altruistic love that can only occur after a person has first suffered harm from an offender. Forgiveness is an act of gift giving to the undeserving offender that attempts to overcome injustice with goodness and potentially to edge out negative feelings associated with the transgression with prosocial emotions like empathy, compassion, and love. Based on emotion theory, the chapter identifies forgiveness as a positively valent low-arousal emotion (like peace and calm) and the opposite, 'unforgiveness', as a negatively valent high-arousal emotion (like fear and anger). Forgiveness as an antidote to negative responses to transgression and research on the negative health effects of hostility, stress, rumination, and suppression, along with ways in which forgiveness can counter these effects, is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAltruism and Health: Perspectives from Empirical Research
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199786794, 9780195182910
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

Fingerprint

Forgiveness
Emotions
Health
Love
Arousal
Gift Giving
Antidotes
Hostility
Anger
Fear
Research

Keywords

  • Altruism
  • Altruistic love
  • Forgiveness
  • Forgiving
  • Health outcomes
  • Transgression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Witvliet, C. V. O., & McCullough, M. (2007). Forgiveness and Health: A Review and Theoretical Exploration of Emotion Pathways. In Altruism and Health: Perspectives from Empirical Research Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.003.0017

Forgiveness and Health : A Review and Theoretical Exploration of Emotion Pathways. / Witvliet, Charlotte V O; McCullough, Michael.

Altruism and Health: Perspectives from Empirical Research. Oxford University Press, 2007.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Witvliet, CVO & McCullough, M 2007, Forgiveness and Health: A Review and Theoretical Exploration of Emotion Pathways. in Altruism and Health: Perspectives from Empirical Research. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.003.0017
Witvliet CVO, McCullough M. Forgiveness and Health: A Review and Theoretical Exploration of Emotion Pathways. In Altruism and Health: Perspectives from Empirical Research. Oxford University Press. 2007 https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.003.0017
Witvliet, Charlotte V O ; McCullough, Michael. / Forgiveness and Health : A Review and Theoretical Exploration of Emotion Pathways. Altruism and Health: Perspectives from Empirical Research. Oxford University Press, 2007.
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