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Effects of lifetime stress exposure on mental and physical health in young adulthood: How stress degrades and forgiveness protects health

Loren L. Toussaint, Grant S. Shields, Gabriel Dorn, George M. Slavich

Journal of Health Psychology, 2014

Research details

Type of paper: Primary Empirical Study

Sample size: 148

Open Access: No


To examine risk and resilience factors that affect health, lifetime stress exposure histories, dispositional forgiveness levels, and mental and physical health were assessed in 148 young adults. Greater lifetime stress severity and lower levels of forgiveness each uniquely predicted worse mental and physical health. Analyses also revealed a graded Stress × Forgiveness interaction effect, wherein associations between stress and mental health were weaker for persons exhibiting more forgiveness. These data are the first to elucidate the interactive effects of cumulative stress severity and forgiveness on health, and suggest that developing a more forgiving coping style may help minimize stress-related disorders.