Implicit forgiveness attitudes predict -low stakes-responses to conflict

Jeremy Goldring

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


The psychological literature often frames forgiveness as a conscious and reflective process: a decision that is reached (or not) over time and after active deliberation. However, some recent work has found that forgiving behaviour may also sometimes occur relatively spontaneously (Karremans & Aarts, 2007). To reconcile these two accounts, it was hypothesised that automatic processes would be more predictive in 'low-stakes' contexts: for transgressions that are less severe, and for forgiveness-relevant behaviours that are more passive (benevolence, avoidance) than active (revenge). Participants (N=113) first completed an Implicit Association Test (IAT: Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998), which assessed 'implicit' (non-conscious) attitudes towards forgiveness, and were then asked to recall a personally-experienced transgression, reporting levels of avoidance, benevolence and revenge towards the transgressor (TRIM: McCullough et al, 1998). A series of three 2 (high/low implicit forgiveness) X 2 (high/low severity) ANOVAs revealed significant interactions for the two 'passive' dependent variables, such that those who were more implicitly forgiving were significantly more benevolent and less avoidant of their transgressors, but only for low severity transgressions. As predicted, implicit attitudes did not predict revenge for either low or high severity transgressions. Implications for our understandings of the forgiveness process are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication11th Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationRole of relationships in adversity, growth and personal transformation
EditorsGery Karantzas
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherThe Australian Psychological Society
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780909881511
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventAnnual Conference of the APS Psychology of Relationships Interest Group - Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 05 Nov 201106 Nov 2011


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the APS Psychology of Relationships Interest Group
Internet address


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