Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

2020 Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford


  • Jessica RourkeEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24612-3_1077



Merriam-Webster defines forgiveness as “to cease to have feelings of anger or bitterness toward.”


Forgiveness is a topic pervasive throughout our species; almost everyone has a story about a time they were forgiven, wished they had been forgiven, forgave someone, or struggled to forgive someone. Forgiveness has been defined as the reduction in motivations to seek revenge and avoid an offender as well as an increase in the motivation to act benevolently toward the offender (McCullough et al. 1998). In other words, forgiveness is a letting go of the negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that plague the victim of an offense and replacing them with positive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Although words such as pardon and reconciliation are often used as synonyms for forgiveness, most researchers are quite clear that forgiveness is distinct from both pardoning and reconciling as well as excusing, justifying, forgetting, and...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Beth A. Visser
    • 1
  1. 1.Lakehead UniversityOrilliaCanada