The varying meaning of forgiveness: Relationship closeness moderates how forgiveness affects feelings of justice

Authors


Michael Wenzel, School of Psychology, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide SA 5001, Australia.

E-mail: Michael.Wenzel@flinders.edu.au

Abstract

Psychological research has repeatedly shown that victims are more likely to forgive socially close than distant others, but little research has addressed the question whether forgiveness in these two cases actually has the same psychological meaning. As one approach to this issue, the present research investigates how acts of forgiveness aid the restoration of victims' justice feelings through different processes, depending on the closeness of their relationship to the offender. In two studies (Study 1 using a scenario method, Study 2 an autobiographical recall), the victim's perceptions of value consensus with the offender mediated justice-restoring effects of forgiveness expressed towards a close offender, whereas feelings of status/power mediated justice-restoring effects of forgiveness expressed towards a distant offender. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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