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Differentiating dispositional self-forgiveness from other-forgiveness : associations with mental health and life satisfaction

Guilford Press
Publication Date
  • Design
  • Psychology


Much of the literature on forgiveness assumes that the process of self-forgiveness and other-forgiveness involved the same processes although there is less research self-forgiveness. The literature also supports associations between unforgiveness and poorer mental health with anger as an implied causal link. Two cross-sectional studies are reported designed to differentiate between dispositional self- and other-forgiveness. In response to face validity issues in the Mauger and colleagues (1992) Forgiveness of Self and others Scale, the scale was factor analyzed and a revised scale with improved face validity and factor structure was produced. In study 1, 297 undergraduates completed measures of mental health, life satisfaction, trait anger, and the revised Mauger scale. Using path analysis with AMOS17, two models based on associations reported in the research and clinical literature were tested. Other-unforgiveness was unrelated to mental health and life satisfaction while self-unforgiveness was a predictor of both. While anger was a predictor self- and other-forgiveness, it did not explain the link between self-unforgiveness and mental health and life satisfaction. Study 2 confirmed these results with a sample of 233 undergraduates, who also completed additional measures of anxiety, shame, and guilt. Path analyses of hypothesized relationships between anxiety, shame, guilt, self- and other-forgiveness, metal health, and life satisfaction were undertaken. The results suggested a different pattern of associations for self- and other-forgiveness. Anger was the only significant predictor of other-unforgiveness while anxiety, shame, and anger were associated with self-forgiveness.

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