Research Topic

Understanding the Processes Associated with Forgiveness

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About this Research Topic

Interpersonal transgressions are inevitable when individuals interact with each other, whether they are friends, family or even strangers.
Such transgressions can take many forms, ranging from romantic infidelity, to rejection, insults or neglect by trustworthy persons.

Strategies adopted by ...

Interpersonal transgressions are inevitable when individuals interact with each other, whether they are friends, family or even strangers.
Such transgressions can take many forms, ranging from romantic infidelity, to rejection, insults or neglect by trustworthy persons.

Strategies adopted by individuals facing interpersonal transgressions often implies distancing oneself from the offender or seeking revenge for the transgression. However, there are several more beneficial responses to offense—such as seeking justice, forbearing, or accepting and moving on with life. Perhaps one of the most beneficial is forgiveness.

Although forgiveness has been often considered as a religious or philosophical issue in the past decades, to date, forgiveness has gained attention within the field of psychology, giving rise to an increasing number of scientific investigations.

Forgiveness is a complex phenomenon to apprehend, reflected by the difficulty of finding consensus on the exact definition of this process. However, virtually all researchers agree that forgiveness involves prosocial changes towards the transgressor, including reduced negative emotion, decreased motivation to retaliate or punish, and (sometimes) increased benevolence towards the offender. A recent review also reported that the act of granting forgiveness was affected by different variables, such as apologies, empathy, perception of the offender’s intentions and the relationship closeness.
Moreover, it has been demonstrated that responding to offenses with forgiveness is associated with greater relationship satisfaction, as well as interpersonal, social, and mental and physical health benefits.

All these studies have provided important insights to help understand the phenomenon of forgiveness. However, there still exist numerous issues concerning forgiveness that need to be investigated.
For instance, a better understanding of the processes that govern individuals’ decisions to forgive and experiences of emotional transformation and their neural correlates, the influence of factors on the process of forgiveness, and their neural effects, as well as the role of forgiveness on physical and mental health, is needed.
Additionally, the use of methods other than self-reported questionnaires is also necessary to effectively map the process of forgiveness

This Research Topic aims to address fundamental issues of forgiveness.
We welcome submissions from a range of different perspectives and techniques and encourage submissions of original articles that examine the process of forgiveness, the effects of the influencing factors on forgiveness and their neural underpinnings, the use of self-reported measures, behavioral response measures, and central nervous system measures (e.g., ERP/EEG, fMRI, and other CNS technology.
With this Research Topic we hope to deepen the understanding of processes associated with forgiveness.


Keywords: forgiveness, transgression, information-processing, decision process, neuroscience


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