Through consecutive Compassionate and Benefit-focused reappraisals
The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2019
Type of paper: Primary Empirical Study
Sample size: 198
Open Access: No
Evidence commends individual use of compassionate and benefit-focused reappraisals to increase empathy and forgiveness, yet the impact of using both reappraisal strategies consecutively is unknown. Building programmatically on experimental research with practice-oriented implications, participants (99 females, 99 males) first relived an unresolved interpersonal offense for which they held another person accountable. Next, they engaged in back-to-back compassionate and benefit-focused reappraisals, counterbalanced within gender. While both reappraisal types facilitated empathic and forgiving responses, interaction effects showed that reappraisal order mattered. Participants who first reappraised with compassion increased their empathy and benevolence and decreased their avoidance; these levels were sustained during subsequent benefit-focused reappraisal. Participants who first reappraised with benefit finding and then compassion showed two back-to-back increases in empathy and benevolence, and decreases in avoidance. Use of negative emotion language about offenders did not decrease until two reappraisal strategies were completed. Overall, findings commend consecutive reappraisals to strengthen and sustain forgiveness.