facebookCompassionate reappraisal and emoti... by Charlotte V. O. Witvliet,Nathaniel J. DeYoung,Alicia J. Hofelich,Paul A. DeYoung | Templeton

By acknowledging an offender,s humanity

Compassionate reappraisal and emotion suppression as alternatives to offense-focused rumination: Implications for forgiveness and psychophysiological well-being.

Charlotte V. O. Witvliet, Nathaniel J. DeYoung, Alicia J. Hofelich, Paul A. DeYoung

The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2011

Research details

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.