Get access

Shifting toward cooperative tendencies and forgiveness: How partner-focused prayer transforms motivation


  • Nathaniel Lambert, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University; Frank D. Fincham, Family and Child Sciences, Florida State University; Nathan C. DeWall and Richard Pond, Psychology Department, University of Kentucky; Steven R. Beach, Psychology Department, University of Georgia.

Nathaniel Lambert, Brigham Young University, 2065 JFSB, Provo, UT 84602, e-mail:


Several studies tested whether partner-focused prayer shifts individuals toward cooperative tendencies and forgiveness. In Studies 1 and 2, participants who prayed more frequently for their partner were rated by objective coders as less vengeful. Study 3 showed that, compared to partners of targets in the positive partner thought condition, the romantic partners of targets assigned to pray reported a positive change in their partner's forgiveness. In Study 4, participants who prayed following a partner's “hurtful behavior” were more cooperative with their partners in a mixed-motive game compared to participants who engaged in positive thoughts about their partner. In Study 5, participants who prayed for a close relationship partner reported higher levels of cooperative tendencies and forgiveness.