Writing about the benefits of an interpersonal transgression facilitates forgiveness

Michael McCullough, Lindsey M. Root, Adam D. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

159 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The authors examined the effects of writing about the benefits of an interpersonal transgression on forgiveness. Participants (N = 304) were randomly assigned to one of three 20-min writing tasks in which they wrote about either (a) traumatic features of the most recent interpersonal transgression they had suffered, (b) personal benefits resulting from the transgression, or (c) a control topic that was unrelated to the transgression. Participants in the benefit-finding condition became more forgiving toward their transgressors than did those in the other 2 conditions, who did not differ from each other. In part, the benefit-finding condition appeared to facilitate forgiveness by encouraging participants to engage in cognitive processing as they wrote their essays. Results suggest that benefit finding may be a unique and useful addition to efforts to help people forgive interpersonal transgressions through structured interventions. The Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations Inventory-18-Item Version (TRIM-18) is appended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-897
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Volume74
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006

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Forgiveness
Motivation
Equipment and Supplies

Keywords

  • Benefit finding
  • Forgiveness
  • LIWC
  • Meaning
  • TRIM
  • Writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this

Writing about the benefits of an interpersonal transgression facilitates forgiveness. / McCullough, Michael; Root, Lindsey M.; Cohen, Adam D.

In: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 74, No. 5, 01.10.2006, p. 887-897.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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