Learning to Forgive: When a Relationship is Tested

Previous research suggests that relationship commitment can promote forgiveness. However, the converse might also be true, especially after severe transgressions wherein forgiveness requires much investment. A recent paper in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science examined commitment-change as a function of both forgiveness and transgression severity. Study 1 ( N = 75) assessed commitment at two time-points (six months apart), and forgiveness for a transgression that had occurred in the interim. Transgression severity was associated with decreased commitment; however, forgiveness mediated this relation such that greater forgiveness diminished commitment loss. Study 2 ( N = 80) replicated these results and ruled out several other potential mediators (including having research subject provide their own subjective assessment of transgression severity).   The role of forgiveness in relationship maintenance is discussed by the authors who conclude that forgiveness is associated with sustained relationship commitment, even (or especially) after relatively severe transgressions. 

For the abstract.

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