By acknowledging an offender,s humanity
The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2011
Type of paper: Primary Empirical Study
Sample size: 54
Open Access: No
This within subjects experiment (28 females, 26 males) examined three responses to a past interpersonal offender. We contrasted offense-focused rumination with two subsequent, counterbalanced coping strategies: compassionate reappraisal and emotion suppression. Compassionate reappraisal emphasized the offender's human qualities and need for positive change. Emotion suppression inhibited the experience and expression of negative offense-related emotions. Offense rumination was associated with negative emotion, faster heartbeats (i.e., shortened electrocardiogram R-R intervals), and lower heart rate variability (HRV; i.e., the high-frequency component of the R-R power spectrum). By contrast, both compassionate reappraisal and emotion suppression decreased negative emotion in ratings and linguistic analyses, calmed eye muscle tension (_orbicularis oculi EMG_, electromyography), and maintained HRV at baseline levels. Suppression inhibited negative emotion expression at the brow (_corrugator_ EMG) and slowed cardiac R-R intervals, but without forgiveness effects. Only compassionate reappraisal significantly increased positive emotions, smiling (_zygomatic_ EMG), and social language along with forgiveness.