Forgiveness, Forbearance, and Time: The Temporal Unfolding of Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations

Michael E. McCullough, Frank D. Fincham, Jo Ann Tsang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

412 Scopus citations


The investigators proposed that transgression-related interpersonal motivations result from 3 psychological parameters: forbearance (abstinence from avoidance and revenge motivations, and maintenance of benevolence), trend forgiveness (reductions in avoidance and revenge, and increases in benevolence), and temporary forgiveness (transient reductions in avoidance and revenge, and transient increases in benevolence). In 2 studies, the investigators examined this 3-parameter model. Initial ratings of transgression severity and empathy were directly related to forbearance but not trend forgiveness. Initial responsibility attributions were inversely related to forbearance but directly related to trend forgiveness. When people experienced high empathy and low responsibility attributions, they also tended to experience temporary forgiveness. The distinctiveness of each of these 3 parameters underscores the importance of studying forgiveness temporally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-557
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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