The subjective experience of forgiveness: Positive construals of the forgiveness experience

Ian Williamson, Marti Hope Gonzales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Three studies examined the subjective experience of forgiveness. Studies 1 and 2 revealed the affective, cognitive, and behavioral consequences of transgressions, and revealed that the forgiveness experience comprises relief from psychological pain, increased empathy and positive regard for offenders, the actualization of religious values, the discovery of new meaning, and movement toward reconciliation with offenders. Study 3, an experiment, revealed that those who have forgiven experience more of these benefits of forgiveness than those who have yet to forgive or than those who reflect on their experiences prior to forgiveness. Study 3 also demonstrated the differential Impact of offense severity, victim-offender closeness, and victim religiosity on the five underlying dimensions of the forgiveness experience. Implications of the forgiveness experience for counseling and therapy are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-446
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


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