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The Herzliya Series on Personality and Social Psychology
InMikulincer, M.; Shaver, P.R. (ed.), Prosocial motives, emotions, and behavior. The better angels of our nature, pp. 285-302
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Mikulincer, M.; Shaver, P.R. (ed.), Prosocial motives, emotions, and behavior. The better angels of our nature
SubjectThe Herzliya Series on Personality and Social Psychology; Behaviour Change and Well-being
In the last decade, the concept of forgiveness has received increasing theoretical and empirical attention in both social, clinical, and developmental psychology. Forgiveness is generally conceptualized as an intentional act by which people seek to overcome their revengeful feelings and their inclination to avoid an offender. In our lecture and chapter we will suggest that, despite the idea that forgiveness is determined by deliberative and intentional processes, one’s level of forgiveness is at least partly influenced by situational factors, and it may often be affected by unconscious processes. To support this idea, we will review recent research findings demonstrating that (a) over time, level of forgiveness regarding a past offense fluctuates considerably, and that (b) subtle priming techniques can trigger people’s willingness to forgive their offenders. For example, it has been demonstrated that increased accessibility of prosocial values (i.e., helpfulness, social justice) facilitates forgiveness, as do closeness primes, power primes, and subtle manipulations of increased subjective temporal distance from the offense. Contrary to the notion of forgiveness as a purely intentional and deliberative process, such findings suggest that forgiveness is relatively malleable and that, over time, implicit situational cues may help people to overcome their resentment toward an offender. Implications regarding conceptualizations of forgiveness, as well as possible practical, therapeutic, and societal implications will be discussed.
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