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Abstract

While the topic of forgiveness has only recently started to receive empirical attention, little research has been conducted to examine the notion that forgiveness predicts pro-relationship responses, motivated by a willingness to set aside personal well-being to enhance the well-being of the partner or relationship. The purpose of the present research was to examine whether forgiveness predicts pro-relationship responses, and whether it does so above and beyond commitment to the offender. Consistent with hypotheses, three studies revealed that forgiveness is significantly associated with (a) willingness to accommodate (i.e. to respond constructively rather than destructively when the partner has engaged in a potentially destructive act), (b) willingness to sacrifice, and (c) level of intended cooperation. Moreover, these associations were independent of commitment to the offender, providing initial evidence for the unique role of forgiveness in understanding pro-relationship motivation and behaviour. Finally, the results of Study 3 suggested that forgiveness restores, rather than increases, levels of pro-relationship motivation, compared to baseline levels of pro-relationship motivation. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.