Ryan Fehr, Michele Gelfand, and Monisha Nag, recently posted their paper, “The Road to Forgiveness: A Meta-Analytic Synthesis of its Situational and Dispositional Correlates” on SSRN. Here’s the abstract.
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Forgiveness has received widespread attention among psychologists from social, personality, clinical, developmental and organizational perspectives alike. Despite great progress, the forgiveness literature has witnessed few attempts at empirical integration. Toward this end, we meta-analyze results from 175 studies and 26,006 participants to examine the correlates of interpersonal forgiveness (i.e. forgiveness of a single offender by a single victim). A tripartite forgiveness typology is proposed, encompassing victims’ cognitions, affect, and constraints following offense. Hypotheses are tested with respect to 22 unique constructs that have been measured across different fields within psychology. We also evaluated key sample and study characteristics including gender, age, time, and methodology as main effects and moderators. Results highlight the multifaceted nature of forgiveness. Variables with particularly notable effects include intent (r̅ = -.49), state empathy (r̅ = .51), apology (r̅ = .42), and state anger (r̅ = -.41). Consistent with previous theory, situational constructs are shown to account for greater variance in forgiveness than victim dispositions, although within-category differences are considerable. Sample and study characteristics yielded negligible effects on forgiveness, despite previous theorizing to the contrary: the effect of gender was non-significant, r̅ = .01 and the effect of age was negligible, r̅ = .06. Preliminary evidence suggests that methodology may exhibit some moderating effects. Scenario methodologies led to enhanced effects for cognitions; recall methodologies led to enhanced effects for affect.
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You can download the paper for free here. For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Michael McCullough on the Situation of Revenge and Forgiveness,” “The Situation of Punishment (and Forgiveness),” and “The Situation of Revenge,”