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Gender Differences in Forgiveness and its Affective Correlates

Kinga Kaleta, Justyna Mróz

Journal of Religion and Health, 2021

Research details

Type of paper: Primary Empirical Study

Sample size: 625

Open Access: Yes


Although women are believed to be more forgiving than men, the results of many studies comparing women with men vary. Moreover, little is known about unique correlates or differential patterns of experiencing forgiveness by gender. In the present study, we compared men and women in terms of their level of dispositional forgiveness and its emotional correlates, namely positive and negative affect, anxiety, and emotional control. The sample consisted of 625 individuals aged 19–69, of whom 478 (76.5%) were women and 147 (23.5%) were men. Polish versions of the Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS), the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), the Courtauld Emotional Control Scale (CECS), and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) were used. Men showed a higher level of general forgiveness and greater willingness to overcome unforgiveness than women, but there was no significant difference in positive facets of the disposition to forgive. In both genders negative affect, anxiety, and control of anger and of depression were negatively related to dimensions of dispositional forgiveness, and positive affect was positively associated with forgiveness. In females control of anxiety was negatively and in males it was positively related to facets of forgiveness. Gender moderated a number of links between affective traits and forgiveness of self and of situations beyond control, but not forgiveness of others.