Keywords

forgiveness, relationship satisfaction, self-regulation, conflict

Abstract

Although the ability to forgive transgressions has been linked to overall relationship satisfaction, the mechanisms that mediate this association have not been established. We propose that the tendency to forgive a romantic partner increases relationship satisfaction via increased relational effort and decreased negative conflict. In two studies, we used structural equations modeling to examine these variables as potential mechanisms that drive this association. In Study 1 (N = 523) and Study 2 (N = 446) we found that these variables significantly mediated the association between forgiveness and relationship satisfaction. The findings were robust when examined concurrently and longitudinally, across multiple measures of forgiveness, and when accounting for baseline relationship satisfaction and interpersonal commitment. These two mechanisms parallel theorized positive and negative dimensions of forgiveness and the motivational transformation that is said to underlie forgiveness. Theoretical implications and implications for intervention are discussed.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2012

Language

English

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Department

Psychology

Included in

Psychology Commons

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