Date of Conferral
Dr. John Astin
Psychology researchers have been gathering information regarding the positive effects of forgiveness, demonstrating that they contribute to better overall physical and emotional wellbeing. Individuals who have suffered a transgression can remain in a place of destructive anger and resentment for years. Long-term, these negative states can have deleterious effects emotionally, physically, and socially. Understanding how to help those who are suffering move past their victimization can have a positive impact. It is therefore important to conduct research to better understand forgiveness through the lived experience of individuals who have experienced some form of victimization. Using evolutionary psychology as the theoretical framework, the motivations for revenge and forgiveness become clearer. The goal of this multiple case study was to examine an individual's process of forgiveness and how it was achieved following the experience of a significant transgression. Nine participants agreed to participate in an in-depth semi-structured interview; this purposeful sample of individuals who had suffered either criminal victimization or interpersonal betrayal, and who had gone through the forgiveness process were selected for this study. The data analysis plan followed Braun and Clarke's six-step thematic analysis guide to classify, analyze, and report the themes that emerged from the data collected. The findings highlighted the processes whereby forgiveness is achieved, A total of six themes were identified: forgiveness perspectives, resentments and anger, safety, motivations, mediators, and resilience/personal growth. The most notable mediators in the process of forgiveness among participants were compassion/empathy and receiving an acknowledgement or explanation/sincere apology from the offender. In conclusion, this research attempts to bring about positive social change by supporting practitioners in helping the populations they serve, as well as further other important research on forgiveness.