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 journalArticlepeer-review

572 Scopus citations


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
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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