The soothing effects of forgiveness on victims' and perpetrators' blood pressure


  • This research was supported by a grant to the last author from the Templeton Foundation (Grant 5158).We would like to thank the Marriage Project Team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for all of their contributions to the study presented in this article.

Peggy Hannon, Health Promotion Research Center, University of Washington, 1107 NE 45th Street, Ste. 200, Seattle, WA 98105, e-mail:


A laboratory experiment tested whether conciliatory behavior predicts lower blood pressure following spouses' discussion of a recent marital transgression. Sixty-eight married couples discussed unresolved transgressions—with random assignment determining whether the husband or the wife was in the victim role—and then rated victim and perpetrator conciliatory behavior (with the former akin to forgiveness and the latter akin to amends) while watching a videotape of their just-completed discussion. Participants' blood pressure was measured 40 min later. Actor–partner interdependence modeling analyses revealed that victim conciliatory behavior during the discussion predicted not only lower victim blood pressure but also lower perpetrator blood pressure after the discussion. Perpetrator conciliatory behavior during the discussion was not associated with victim or perpetrator blood pressure.