Forgiveness is an essential component of relationship growth and healing, with academic, professional, and public interest in research and writing on the topic continually increasing over the past two decades. Indignation is endemic to interpersonal offense, and a key component of the forgiveness process; few, however, have written about the potentially facilitative role that it may play. Disparate conceptualizations of indignation among researchers and therapists may impede therapeutic progress, individually and interpersonally. This study presents a review of social science literature on forgiveness and a new model of the emotional response to offense that positions corrective, protective indignation on a continuum between two contrasting manifestations of destructive anger that reflect distortions in underlying views of self, other, and relationship. The study also includes the results of a statistical analysis of the Indignation and Forgiveness Scale (IFS) administered to a group of relational therapists (N = 98) gauging their professional judgment of the acceptability of indignation as a component of forgiveness as a facilitative emotion in the overall process of forgiveness. Overall, therapists expressed a strong belief in the compatibility of indignation and forgiveness. As a psychometric instrument, the IFS displayed multidimensionality, with items loading onto four subscales. Of the demographic characteristics, only the number of hours therapists' worked per week affected their views on indignation and forgiveness, with greater professional involvement leading to more favorable views of indignation in therapy for infidelity. Professional interest combined with a lack of theoretical and practical literature on these topics indicates that marriage therapists and scholars are prepared for continued research and model development on the role of constructive indignation in forgiveness.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


Document Type





offense, indignation, anger, forgiving, forgiveness, treatment acceptability