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Conceptualized by people differently

Conceptualizations of Forgiveness: a Latin America-Western Europe Comparison

Adriana Bagnulo, María Teresa Muñoz-Sastre, Etienne Mullet

Universitas Psychologica, 2009

Research details

Type of paper: Primary Empirical Study

Sample size: 446

Open Access: Yes


Conceptualizations of forgiveness were examined in two samples of Latin American and Western European participants. In both samples the same basic four-factor structure of conceptualizations was found: Change of Heart, More than Dyadic Process, Encourages Repentance, and Immoral Behavior. Latin Americans agreed more than Western Europeans with the idea that forgiveness is extensible to unknown or deceased people, thus it can be offered on behalf of deceased relatives. In both samples, substantial disagreements were found about the psychological nature of forgiveness (a change of heart), and a large proportion of participants disagreed with the idea that it may encourage the offender’s repentance. However, most participants, agreed with the basic idea that forgiveness is not immoral. It is thus recommended, to precisely define the concept of forgiveness before introducing it in therapeutic (and non-therapeutic) settings, and not to expect that everyone would agree with the proposed definition.