Why forgiveness may protect against depression: Hopelessness as an explanatory mechanism



This study examined associations between multiple dimensions of forgiveness with hopelessness and depression. Further, this study investigated the extent to which hopelessness mediated associations between forgiveness and depression. We used an adapted model and drew on beginning work showing associations between forgiveness, hope/hopelessness and depression. We predicted that forgiveness would be significantly inversely correlated with hopelessness and depression, and that hopelessness would mediate the associations between forgiveness and depression. We controlled for religiousness/spirituality and demographic factors in our analyses, and used data from a nationally representative probability sample of 1 423 adults, ages 18 years and older. Results showed that forgiveness of oneself and others was negatively correlated, and seeking forgiveness was positively correlated with depression. Forgiveness of oneself and others was associated with hopelessness. Mediation analyses revealed that hopelessness partially mediated the associations between forgiveness of oneself and others with depression. The present findings provide support for theoretical and conceptual work connecting forgiveness, hope and mental health, and add to a scant empirical literature on these topics. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.