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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01725

Forgiving adolescents: Far from Depression, close to well-being

  • 1Department of Developmental and Social Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
  • 2Association of Cognitive Psychology, School of Cognitive Psychotherapy, Italy
  • 3Roma Tre University, Italy
  • 4Department of Education Science, Roma Tre University, Italy
  • 5Department of Health Sciences, University of Florence, Italy
  • 6Department of Education, Roma Tre University, Italy
  • 7Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi, Italy
  • 8Associazione Scuola di Psicoterapia Cognitiva (APC-SPC), Italy

Forgiveness has been proven to be an effective way of regulating negative affect and decreasing depression. This study aimed at examining the relationship among constructs particularly relevant to adolescents’ well-being, including forgivingness (dispositional forgiveness) anger, depression and Hedonic Balance (HB). Specifically, using a structural equation modelling approach, the fully mediational role of the different facets of anger in the relationship between forgiveness and depression was tested in 773 adolescents, of which 69% girls. Results showed that forgivingness was positively and negatively related to, respectively, HB and depression, through a general effect of anger, suggesting that more forgiving adolescents had higher HB and lower depression, as they reported a lower general tendency to experience anger. Forgivingness was also positively related both to HB and to depression through the mediation of all the facets of Anger. Moreover, only for HB, a specific effect of Anger-control was found, suggesting that more forgiving adolescents had higher HB, as they reported higher strategies to control anger in a functional manner. Model invariance was supported across gender. Our results suggest that forgiveness is a significant protective factor against depression for adolescents, helping them to effectively control and manage anger, thus fostering emotional health. An important clinical implication of our study regards the potential of forgiveness as a resource for well-being in therapy: among the various possible protective factors in adolescence, forgiveness has the added advantage that it can be fostered in clinical settings, and working on forgiveness in psychotherapy could decrease adolescent depression and improve well-being.

Keywords: Depression, Forgiveness, Anger, adolescence, Well-being

Received: 10 Apr 2019; Accepted: 11 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Lourdes Rey, University of Málaga, Spain

Reviewed by:

María Angeles Peláez-Fernández, University of Málaga, Spain
Ebru Taysi, Süleyman Demirel University, Turkey  

Copyright: © 2019 Barcaccia, Pallini, Pozza, Milioni, Baiocco, Mancini and Vecchio. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Barbara Barcaccia, Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Developmental and Social Psychology, Rome, Italy, barbara.barcaccia@uniroma1.it