Forgiveness and Health: Age Differences in a U.S. Probability Sample

Loren L. Toussaint, David R. Williams, Marc A. Musick, Susan A. Everson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


Forgiveness is a variable closely related to religiousness and spirituality that has been hypothesized to be protective of mental and physical health. However, we do not clearly understand which aspects of forgiveness are most clearly associated with health outcomes, and the conditions under which these relationships occur. This study used national probability data to systematically examine age differences in the association between forgiveness, religiousness/spirituality, and respondent reports of mental and physical health. Results showed age differences in the levels of forgiveness of others and feeling forgiven by God. In both cases, middle and old age adults showed higher levels of these forms of forgiveness than young adults. Furthermore, the relationship between forgiveness of others and respondent reports of mental and physical health varies by age. Forgiveness of others was more strongly related to self-reported mental and physical health for middle and old age adults than for young adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adult Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by the Fetzer Institute as part of the John Templeton Foundation’s campaign for forgiveness research, by grant T32-MH16806 from the National Institute of Mental Health, and by a Faculty Research Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Michigan.


  • Age
  • Age differences
  • Forgiveness
  • Health
  • Mental health


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