Psychometric and rationalization accounts of the religion-forgiveness discrepancy

Jo Ann Tsang, Michael E. McCullough, William T. Hoyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


World events and psychological research often fail to support a relationship between religion and forgiveness. We suggest that the gap between general religious support of forgiveness and actual forgiveness by religious individuals (the religion-forgiveness discrepancy) described by McCullough and Worthington (1999) may be partly due to methodological shortcomings. We present three studies with 452 undergraduate participants to illustrate how psychometric weaknesses can obscure the relationship between religiousness and transgression-specific forgiveness. We also propose a rationalization explanation that describes how religion might justify unforgiveness. We present a pilot study of 38 undergraduate participants that demonstrates correlations between retributive and compassionate religious beliefs, and transgression-specific forgiveness. We discuss future research directions addressing the religion-forgiveness discrepancy on psychometric and theoretical levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-805
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Psychometric and rationalization accounts of the religion-forgiveness discrepancy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this