Dealing with betrayal in close relationships: Does commitment promote forgiveness?

Eli J. Finkel*, Caryl E. Rusbult, Madoka Kumashiro, Peggy A. Hannon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

451 Scopus citations

Abstract

This work complements existing research regarding the forgiveness process by highlighting the role of commitment in motivating forgiveness. On the basis of an interdependence-theoretic analysis, the authors suggest that (a) victims' self-oriented reactions to betrayal are antithetical to forgiveness, favoring impulses such as grudge and vengeance, and (b) forgiveness rests on prorelationship motivation, one cause of which is strong commitment. A priming experiment, a cross-sectional survey study, and an interaction record study revealed evidence of associations (or causal effects) of commitment with forgiveness. The commitment-forgiveness association appearred to rest on intent to persist rather than long-term orientation or psychological attachment. In addition, the commitment-forgiveness association was mediated by cognitive interpretations of betrayal incidents; evidence for mediation by emotional reactions was inconsistent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-974
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume82
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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