On the Form and Function of Forgiving: Modeling the Time-Forgiveness Relationship and Testing the Valuable Relationships Hypothesis

Michael E. McCullough, Lindsey Root Luna, Jack W. Berry, Benjamin A. Tabak, Giacomo Bono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

83 Scopus citations

Abstract

In two studies, the authors sought to identify the mathematical function underlying the temporal course of forgiveness. A logarithmic model outperformed linear, exponential, power, hyperbolic, and exponential-power models. The logarithmic function implies a psychological process yielding diminishing returns, corresponds to the Weber-Fechner law, and is functionally similar to the power law underlying the psychophysical function (Stevens, 1971) and the forgetting function (Wixted & Ebbesen, 1997). By 3 months after their transgressions, the typical participant's forgiveness had increased by two log-odds units. Individual differences in rates of change were correlated with robust predictors of forgiveness. Consistent with evolutionary theorizing (McCullough, 2008), Study 2 revealed that forgiveness was uniquely associated with participants' perceptions that their relationships with their offenders retained value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-376
Number of pages19
JournalEmotion
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2010

Keywords

  • change
  • evolution
  • forgiveness
  • multilevel modeling
  • nonlinear models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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