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Forgive and Forget? Antecedents and Consequences of Intergroup Forgiveness in Bosnia and Herzegovina



The present study examines the effects of contact and common-ingroup identification on intergroup forgiveness and outgroup behavioral tendencies. A sample of Bosnian Muslims (N = 180) were asked to report their readiness to forgive the misdeeds committed by Bosnian Serbs during the 1992–95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A path analysis of the presumed antecedents and consequences of forgiveness revealed that frequent and good quality contact with members from the perpetrator group predicted forgiveness (positively) and desire for social distance (negatively). Moreover, the positive relationship between contact and forgiveness was mediated by empathy and trust towards the outgroup and by perceived outgroup heterogeneity. Common-ingroup identification was also found to be positively associated with forgiveness and negatively with social distance towards the outgroup. Finally, intergroup forgiveness also predicted social distance from the outgroup. The theoretical and applied implications of these findings are discussed.