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How Do People Conceptualize and Use Forgiveness? The Forgiveness Attitudes Questionnaire.

This study was completed for 2 purposes: to explore how people use and conceptualize interpersonal forgiveness and to introduce the Forgiveness Attitudes Questionnaire (FAQ), an instrument designed to explore forgiveness. The instrument was administered to 155 students from 2 midwestern colleges. Results suggest that the FAQ shows early promise as an instrument for exploring interpersonal forgiveness, although further validity studies are required. The implications of the results are discussed and suggestions for future research are provided.

Forgiveness as a psychological construct has, within the last several years, become a topic of increasing interest to researchers. Information about forgiveness is appearing in the psychological literature with greater frequency because of this increased research focus. In addition, it is achieving greater acceptance as a psychological construct. Freedman and Enright (1996) pointed out that although forgiveness was formerly a topic of inquiry for theologians and philosophers, it is now becoming acceptable in counseling and psychology as well. The publication of forgiveness-related articles in mainstream journals (Ferch, 1998; Freedman & Enright, 1996; McCullough, Worthington, & Rachal, 1997) further reveals the acceptance of forgiveness in the fields of psychology and counseling.

Forgiveness has also recently appeared in the popular media, which portrays forgiveness as a simplistic phenomenon. However, according to many psychological researchers, forgiveness tends to be an effortful yet beneficial process that takes time. In other words, according to forgiveness researchers, forgiveness may be a more difficult process than that displayed in the media.

Research has revealed that forgiveness may be more difficult for certain groups than for others. For example, college students may be less forgiving and have more anxiety than their same-gender parents, specifically when looking at a developmentally relevant area (Subkoviak et al., 1995). Religious individuals may be more forgiving because, in general, "Christians value forgiveness" (Rokeach, as cited in McCullough & Worthington, 1994). McCullough and Worthington (1994) also cited three other studies, suggesting that certain groups can be distinguished from one another on the basis of their valuation of forgiveness: The groups mentioned were "marijuana users and non-users, individuals high and low in Machiavellianism, and females aspiring to traditional and nontraditional occupations" (p. 6). Forgiveness may also be more challenging for victims of incest, rape, or other interpersonal hurts than for nonvictims (Fitzgibbons, 1986; Freedman & Enright, 1996; McCullough & Worthington, 1994). Essentially, forgiveness may be an important process, although more highly valued by some groups than others.

Forgiveness has been explored in different ways in the few quantitative studies that exist about forgiveness. Client self-report is one common method used in case studies about forgiveness (e.g., Worthington & DiBlasio, 1990). The measure of psychological constructs such as anxiety or depression is another common method, with inferences being made about whether forgiveness has taken place on the basis of changes in those constructs. Finally, instruments specifically designed to measure forgiveness have been used. These instruments focus on cognitions, emotions, and behaviors in some form or another (Hebl & Enright, 1993; Subkoviak et al., 1995; Wade, as cited in McCullough & Worthington, 1995) or forgiveness of self versus forgiveness of others (Mauger et al., 1992). Hebl and Enright (1993) mentioned the Willingness to Forgive scale, which assesses a person's "willingness to choose forgiveness as a problem solving strategy" (p. 663). For this instrument, individuals respond to hypothetical situations, with forgiveness being one of 10 response options.

The purpose of this study is threefold. First, because of the limited research about differences in perceived willingness to forgive, the relationship between demographic variables and perceived ability to forgive is examined. Demographic differences based on religious variables but not on other demographic variables are anticipated. The reason for this is that religiosity is often associated with forgiveness (Rokeach, as cited in McCullough & Worthington, 1994), whereas other demographic variables are not. Second, understanding how people outside of the academic community conceptualize and understand forgiveness may better equip researchers to develop improved forgiveness interventions, both therapeutically and psychoeducationally. Discussing the initial development of the instrument used for this study is the final purpose. The instrument, the Forgiveness Attitudes Questionnaire (FAQ), is, in part, based on hypothetical situations, similar to the Willingness to Forgive scale (Hebl & Enright, 1993). However, unlike that scale, forgiveness is the only option available on the FAQ, and participants indicate the degree to which they may be willing to forgive in a specific situation. The FAQ also includes questions relating to people's general conceptualizations of forgiveness. Consequently, participants in this study, unlike others, knew ahead of time that they were being asked about forgiveness. Given these purposes, the research questions are the following:

1. Do significant demographic differences exist on the FAQ in terms of perceived willingness to forgive for

a. individuals who claim to be "born again" versus those who do not?

b. individuals having different religious preferences?

c. men versus women?

d. individuals of different relationship statuses?

2. What specific factors (e.g., reconciliation, anger) are represented in people's conceptualizations of forgiveness?

3. Do significant differences exist in the understanding and perceived use of forgiveness for those self-identified as born again versus those self-identified as not born again?

4. What situations do people perceive as difficult to forgive versus easy to forgive?

5. What are the initial psychometric characteristics of the FAQ?

METHOD

Participants

Participants consisted of students from two courses in Life Planning and Decision Making at a midsize midwestern university and four Introductory Psychology classes at a small, private, Christian liberal arts college. Students from introductory courses were selected because they represent a variety of academic majors and demographic backgrounds. All (N = 155) participants completed the entire protocol. The participants included 113 women and 42 men in their first year through senior classes. The sample consisted of 142 (92%) White, 4 (3%) Latino, 3 (2%) Asian American, and 6 (4%) "other" participants. Christianity was the religious affiliation with which most participants identified, with most indicating that they were either Catholic (12%) or Protestant (67%). An additional 32 individuals (21%) indicated "other" as their religious preference. Finally, most of individuals in the sample (70%) indicated that they were "born again."

Procedure

Participants were tested in one of two ways. Either students remained after a class period and completed the protocol or they attended one of several out-of-class administrations. Each student was given a packet of materials that included, in the following order, a consent form explaining participant rights, a form describing participant rights and listing phone numbers for questions participants may have, a demographic sheet, and the FAQ. The consent form was read aloud, and participants were required to sign it before completing the FAQ. Completion of the protocol took approximately 15 to 20 min for each student. Participants were also told that if they were experiencing any negative emotions, they could speak with the administrator (the author) on completion, although no one took this option.

Instrumentation

The FAQ was designed for the purpose of this study. The first part of the instrument consists of 26 paragraphs (see the Appendix), which I developed through an exploration of the literature, that describe hypothetical situations in which some interpersonal hurt has occurred. These situations ranged in severity from benign (e.g., spilled juice) to extremely hurtful (e.g., long-term incest). The following is an example of an item: "A person goes to his/her spouse and reports that he/she has had intercourse with another person. This person reports that it was a one-time occurrence over a year ago and that he/she is very sorry for what has happened, indicating that it will never happen again, and asks for forgiveness. If you were told this by your spouse, how would you respond?" Each situation has the possibility of the same five responses, which were "I definitely could not forgive this situation" (scored 1); "I would have a very hard time forgiving this situation and probably would not do it" (scored 2); "I don't know if I could forgive this situation or not" (scored 3); "It would be difficult, but I would probably forgive this situation" (scored 4); and "I could easily forgive this situation" (scored 5). Responses with higher numbers signify more perceived willingness to forgive. Participants were instructed to place themselves in the situation and indicate how easy it would be to forgive. The first part of the FAQ produces one score, the Total Forgiveness Score (TFS), which potentially can range from 26 to 130, with higher scores indicating a higher self-perceived willingness to forgive. The internal consistency of this instrument was high ([Alpha] = .92). Unfortunately, although the FAQ seems to have good content validity because the scenarios represent those that actually may require forgiveness, the validity is only assumed.

The second part of the instrument used for this project included 23 yes or no questions designed to ascertain the beliefs of people about specific aspects related to forgiveness. By exploring specific concepts, researchers may be able to better understand how individuals conceptualize forgiveness. Examining the literature about forgiveness aided in the development of the questions for this part, and questions were created on the basis of key concepts that appear frequently. More specifically, the literature was reviewed to ascertain what authors considered to be significant factors in research about forgiveness, and questions were created accordingly. For example, the concept of reconciliation appears repeatedly in writings about forgiveness; therefore, a question was developed concerning whether reconciliation is necessary for forgiveness. In addition, these questions were designed to encompass key concepts without being redundant. It should not be assumed, however, that this list is exhaustive but merely representative.

RESULTS

The development of a TFS for each of the participants was the first step in the analysis. This consisted of adding the score (i.e., 1 to 5) of each scenario from the first part for each participant. The TFS scores ranged from 41 to 117. After this, various demographic categories were analyzed through analyses of variance (ANOVAs) to determine whether the groups differed from one another on the TFS.

Two ANOVAs of demographic groups (ethnicity and age) needed to be excluded because of small group sizes for certain groups. Additionally, one analysis (religious preference) was altered by randomly removing members from one group (Protestants) to make group sizes similar.

Two of the ANOVAs in the present study proved significant. First, individuals who claimed to be "born again" had a higher self-perceived willingness to forgive than those who were not "born again," F(1,151) = 32.29, p [is less than] .0001. The born-again group had a mean TFS of 86.69 (SD = 13.26), whereas the other group had a mean TFS of 72.91 (SD = 14.85). The analysis of religious preference also proved to be significant, F(2, 80) = 14.49, p [is less than] .001. However, it was interesting that Catholics were an outlier when compared with the other two groups using a Tukey highly significantly difference test. In other words, Protestants (mean TFS = 89.84, SD = 13.46) and the "other" group (mean TFS = 81.44, SD = 15.35) did not significantly differ from one another, but both differed significantly from Catholics (mean TFS = 67.47, SD = 14.71). The other ANOVAs of demographic variables did not reveal any significance between groups. These analyses included sex, F(1, 153) = 0.75, p = .39, and marital status, F(2, 152) = 1.83, p = .18.

Exploring what variables exist in people's understandings of forgiveness was the focus of the second research question. This was accomplished by a binomial analysis of Part 2 of the FAQ to determine whether significantly more persons answered yes versus no for each specific question. Owing to multiple tests, alpha was set at .001 by Bonferonni correction.

Table 1 contains descriptive statistics including the number and percentage of participants that answered each question "yes" or "no." Table 1 also contains the results of the binomial analysis, with significance indicated by an asterisk. Participants demonstrated significant agreement on all but four questions.

TABLE 1 Conceptual Forgiveness Questions
                                                           Yes

Question                                                n        %

 1. Is reconciliation a necessary part of
      forgiveness?                                     107(*)    69
 2. Is an apology necessary before you would forgive
      someone?                                          50       32
 3. Is it necessary to forget the hurt when you
      forgive someone?                                  37       24
 4. Do you see forgiveness as primarily a religious
      concept?                                          51       33
 5. Is it possible to forgive someone without that
      person being aware of it?                        150(*)    97
 6. Do you feel guilty if you do not forgive
      someone?                                         112(*)    72
 7. Is it possible to forgive yourself?                150(*)    97
 8. Is forgiveness more helpful for the person who
      was hurt than the person who did the hurting?     76       49
 9. Can forgiveness cause emotional problems?          105(*)    68
10. Do you think you have a moral responsibility to
      forgive?                                         119(*)    77
11. Does forgiving someone excuse their hurtful
      behavior?                                         10        7
12. Can forgiveness occur if a hurtful action is
      still happening?                                  77       50
13. Are religious people more forgiving?                76       49
14. Do you see yourself as more forgiving than
      others?                                           90(*)    58
15. Is it easier to forgive a friend/family member
      than a stranger?                                 106(*)    68
16. Does anger decrease when forgiveness takes
      place?                                           133(*)    86
17. Are you more likely to forgive someone who has
      made a major life change?                        126(*)    81
18. Do you see forgiveness as a weakness?                5        3
19. Does forgiveness justify a hurtful behavior?         9        6
20. Does forgiveness automatically restore trust?        9        6
21. Is it possible to be both angry and forgiving
      about a situation at the same time?              117(*)    76
22. Was forgiveness used often in your family?         132(*)    85
23. Do you believe people should be forgiven more
      than once for doing the same hurtful action
      repeatedly?                                      101(*)    65

                                                            No

Question                                                n        %

 1. Is reconciliation a necessary part of
      forgiveness?                                      48       31
 2. Is an apology necessary before you would forgive
      someone?                                         105(*)    68
 3. Is it necessary to forget the hurt when you
      forgive someone?                                 118(*)    76
 4. Do you see forgiveness as primarily a religious
      concept?                                         104(*)    67
 5. Is it possible to forgive someone without that
      person being aware of it?                          5        3
 6. Do you feel guilty if you do not forgive
      someone?                                          43       28
 7. Is it possible to forgive yourself?                  5        3
 8. Is forgiveness more helpful for the person who
      was hurt than the person who did the hurting?     79       51
 9. Can forgiveness cause emotional problems?           49       32
10. Do you think you have a moral responsibility to
      forgive?                                          36       23
11. Does forgiving someone excuse their hurtful
      behavior?                                        145(*)    94
12. Can forgiveness occur if a hurtful action is
      still happening?                                  78       50
13. Are religious people more forgiving?                77       51
14. Do you see yourself as more forgiving than
      others?                                           65       42
15. Is it easier to forgive a friend/family member
      than a stranger?                                  49       32
16. Does anger decrease when forgiveness takes
      place?                                            22       14
17. Are you more likely to forgive someone who has
      made a major life change?                         29       19
18. Do you see forgiveness as a weakness?              150(*)    97
19. Does forgiveness justify a hurtful behavior?       146(*)    94
20. Does forgiveness automatically restore trust?      146(*)    94
21. Is it possible to be both angry and forgiving
      about a situation at the same time?               38       25
22. Was forgiveness used often in your family?          23       15
23. Do you believe people should be forgiven more
      than once for doing the same hurtful action
      repeatedly?                                       54       35


(*) p < .001 (Bonferroni corrected).

The question of whether individuals who are born again view certain concepts of forgiveness differently from others (Research Question 3) was analyzed using a chi-square procedure. Although all 23 questions were analyzed, only 5 analyses showed that those who are born again differed from those who are not. The first was "Do you see forgiveness primarily as a religious concept?" Even though most of both groups thought that forgiveness was not primarily a religious concept, those who were not born again were more likely to think that it was (p [is less than] .001). The next question for which differences existed was "Do you feel guilty if you do not forgive someone?" For this question, a significantly greater percentage of born-again individuals reportedly feel guilty if they do not forgive (p [is less than] .001). "Do you think you have a moral responsibility to forgive?" was the third question that revealed significant differences. Although an approximately equal number of people who were not born again thought they had a moral responsibility to forgive, a large majority of those who were born again believed they have a moral responsibility to forgive (p [is less than] .001). Fourth, differences existed for the question, "Are you more likely to forgive someone who has made a major life change?" Even though most of both groups thought it would be easier to forgive someone who has demonstrated a major life change, a larger majority of born-again individuals felt this way (p [is less than] .001). Finally, differences were observed for the question, "Do you believe people should be forgiven more than once for doing the same hurtful action repeatedly?" Most born-again individuals thought that repeated forgiveness should occur, whereas most individuals who were not born again felt the opposite way (p [is less than] .001).

Following these explorations, the responses to three other questions were analyzed using independent t tests to determine if differences existed between groups on the TFS. These three questions were selected because differences would be expected between them and because they have a sufficient number of people responding both yes and no to justify analysis. These analyses were undertaken because they provided some information about the validity of the FAQ. The first question was "Do you feel guilty if you do not forgive someone?" Individuals who feel guilty if they do not forgive (M = 84.46, SD = 14.2, compared with M = 76.86, SD = 16.1 for the other group) are more likely to have higher TFSs, t(154) = 2.87, p = .005. The second question asked participants, "Do you think you have a moral responsibility to forgive?" Again, the results seemed significant, t(154) = 4.402, p [is less than] .001, suggesting that those who think they have a moral responsibility (M = 85.13, SD = 14.2) differ from those who do not (M = 73.17, SD = 14.5). The final question analyzed was "Can forgiveness cause emotional problems?" Those who thought it could (M = 80.12, SD = 24.0) had significantly lower TFSs than those who did not (M = 87.02, SD = 14.7), with the resultant t(154) = 2.68, p = .008. The results obtained make logical sense and, therefore, lend support to the validity of the instrument.

Next, as would be expected, individuals indicated that they believed they would be much less likely to forgive serious hurts, such as the repeated sexual abuse of a child without apology (M = 1.99, SD = 1.0) and repeated spousal infidelity without apology (M = 2.19, SD = 1.1), rather than minor infractions, such as getting juice spilled on oneself before a meeting (M = 4.66, SD = 0.83) and being involved in a fender bender with an apologetic driver (M = 4.59, SD = 0.89). As was expected, people perceive themselves as less likely to forgive serious hurts rather than minor infractions, which also provides support to the validity of the instrument. Finally, in terms of initial psychometric properties, the FAQ has an alpha = .92, which suggests good internal consistency reliability for this instrument.

DISCUSSION

The FAQ seems to have potential usefulness as a tool for exploring and understanding forgiveness. Psychometrically, the high alpha suggests adequate internal consistency reliability. In addition, the content validity seems to be reasonable. Furthermore, there seems to be some initial evidence of construct validity. The FAQ shows initial promise as a measure for forgiveness, although further validation is desirable.

This instrument also helped to delineate how individuals from various groups perceived their own willingness to forgive. Although marital status and sex seemed to have little correlation to perceived willingness to forgive, religious variables did. The most interesting of these variables was that individuals who reported that they were born again perceived their own level of interpersonal forgiveness to be higher than those who were not born again. Part of the reason for this may be that individuals who claim to be born again directly perceive their own forgiveness by God. Because individuals who are born again believe they have been forgiven, they may feel a stronger conviction to be forgiving toward others. These results also provide some initial evidence of validity.

Although the previous result was expected, Protestants and "others" having greater self-perceived willingness to forgive than did Catholics was not expected. The Protestant view of God tends to be more focused on grace and mercy, whereas a Catholic view of God may tend to be more focused on justice and good works, which may explain this result. However, this is only a suggestion for how such a result could have occurred.

"Pseudoforgiveness" (see Enright & the Human Development Study Group, 1991) may explain why those who felt guilty if they did not forgive had higher TFS scores. Pseudoforgiveness occurs when individuals "truly believe they have forgiven when, in fact, they have not" (p. 134). It can be a problem and can lead to a lack of proper healing and a return of negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression in the long run. Another explanation for the higher TFS scores is that individuals who feel guilty if they do not forgive may be more susceptible to answering in a socially desirable way.

The question of moral responsibility is related to this issue. However, unlike guilt, the term moral responsibility tends to have a more positive connotation associated with it. Even though the term has a more positive connotation, these individuals may still be susceptible to pseudoforgiveness and socially desirable responding. The idea that a person's morality is often tied to her or his religious beliefs may be another explanation. For this reason, a person who sees forgiveness as a moral responsibility, as many born-again individuals do, may be more likely to use forgiveness as a response to a deep emotional hurt.

Individuals who see forgiveness as having the potential to cause emotional problems tend to perceive themselves as less willing to forgive. Pseudoforgiveness may also appear here because some people may not want to forgive because of the assumed problems associated with it. These individuals may be inclined to support Nietzsche's (1887/1956) idea that people who forgive are weaklings or are unhealthy.

The three questions discussed earlier supply some additional support for the validity of the instrument. It was expected that individuals who felt guilty if they did not forgive and those who felt a moral responsibility to forgive would perceive themselves as better forgivers, whereas it was expected that people who believe that forgiveness causes emotional problems would perceive themselves as less willing to forgive. Although these items do not fully validate the instrument, they do lend support.

The second part of this study suggests that although people display some differences in how they conceptualize forgiveness, there seems to be some agreement about forgiveness among this sample. However, there were four questions on the second part in which individuals were inconsistent. The most interesting of these revealed that nearly the same number of individuals thought that forgiveness was more helpful for the victim as thought that it was more helpful for the offender. This result makes sense, however, given the paradoxical nature of forgiveness (Hope, 1987). In essence, forgiveness can be healing for both the victim and the offender.

In general, the participants in this study conceptualized forgiveness in a similar manner to that conceptualized by forgiveness researchers. There were, however, a couple of areas in which they differed. First, a significant majority of this sample thought that reconciliation was a necessary part of forgiveness. Many researchers (e.g., Enright, Eastin, Golden, Sarinopoulos, & Freedman, 1992) and forgiveness theorists support the notion that forgiveness and reconciliation are two separate things. Smedes (1996) indicated that "forgiving and reunion (reconciliation) are not the same things; a person can truly forgive and refuse to be reunited" (p. 27). Still, other researchers (McCullough, Sandage, & Worthington, 1997; Veenstra, 1992) have asserted that even though reconciliation may not be a necessary part of forgiveness, it is often desirable.

Participants also differed from researchers in asserting that forgiveness can cause emotional problems. True forgiveness, in and of itself, is not likely to cause emotional problems. However, pseudoforgiveness, as described by Enright and his colleagues (Enright & the Human Development Study Group, 1991), occurs when individuals assume they have forgiven and they actually have not. Although this abbreviated approach to absolving someone may lead to some emotional difficulties in the long run, true forgiveness is not thought to lead to such difficulties.

Relatively strong agreement between the participants and forgiveness theorists suggests that forgiveness may be an important and effective therapeutic tool. Because people tend to view forgiveness positively, they may be amenable to using it within the therapeutic session. However, even though people have a consistent understanding of forgiveness in general, the agreement among them is not complete; hence, psychoeducation about forgiveness remains important and should be included in forgiveness interventions. McCullough and Worthington (1995) supported this notion that psychoeducation is effective and increases people's knowledge of forgiveness.

The agreement among participants also tends to hold true for born-again individuals versus those who are not because, for most questions, born-again individuals and those who were not agreed with each other. However, these two groups differed from each other on some questions. First, even though most thought forgiveness was not a religious concept, more people who claimed to be born again believed it was. This difference may exist because individuals who are born again tend to see forgiveness as a part of their belief systems and, therefore, a religious concept. Second, more born-again people reportedly feel guilty if they do not forgive. Because forgiveness is a biblical mandate, those who are born again may believe they are not following that mandate if they fail to forgive. On a related note, individuals who were born again were much more likely to see forgiveness as a moral responsibility. Because those who consider themselves born again often define their moral code according to the Bible, forgiveness may indeed be seen as a moral obligation. The majority of both groups thought that it would be much easier to forgive someone who has made a major life change, but born-again individuals were significantly more likely to think this way. Status as a born-again individual may be one reason that individuals perceive themselves as much more likely to forgive a person with a major life change. The idea of being born again relates to a person making a major life change through the forgiveness of Christ. Finally, born-again individuals indicated that they would be more likely to repeatedly forgive if a hurtful action was still occurring rather than those who were not born-again. This difference is, no doubt, related to Christ's message of repeated forgiveness as it appears in the book of Matthew. Christ tells Peter that he should forgive his brother not 7 times, but 77 times, indicating the importance of repeated forgiveness (Matthew 18:99, New International Version).

Although some differences exist between individuals who are born again and those who are not, both groups seem to conceptualize forgiveness similarly in most cases. Where differences exist between the two groups, it seems to relate specifically to religious perspective.

Overall, this study provides an interesting way of looking at forgiveness. It seems that although people may not be educated about the psychological literature as it pertains to forgiveness, they understand it in much the same way as forgiveness researchers do. Researchers can use this information to clarify models of forgiveness and forgiveness interventions. In addition, psychoeducation and therapeutic techniques can be improved by understanding the client's perspectives.

There were several limitations to this study. First, the sample size (N = 155) was fairly small for the study of a new psychometric instrument. However, this was an exploratory study, and the FAQ is a preliminary instrument. Future research using this instrument should focus on using larger and more diverse samples. Another concern is that this study was based on self-report, as opposed to direct behavioral observation, and may have been susceptible to socially desirable responding. A final concern is the validity and reliability data compiled. Although the instrument indicated reasonable internal consistency reliability and seems to have good content and construct validity, the validity data are assumed and should be interpreted cautiously. Consequently, because this is the first use of the FAQ and the psychometric properties have not been fully developed, the results of the study should be interpreted accordingly.

Future research with the FAQ should, first and foremost, focus on additional studies that further examine the psychometric properties of this instrument. This instrument could be further developed in several ways. First, it could be administered to larger, more heterogeneous samples. Second, test-retest reliability could be established to further support the internal consistency reliability. Finally, criterion-related validity and construct validity could be demonstrated by administering it with other forgiveness instruments as well as in other situations. Administration of the FAQ with a social desirability scale would be another beneficial study because respondents may be prone to socially desirable responding about forgiveness, a value-laden concept. Related to this, the presence of order effects could be assessed by varying which section of the FAQ was administered first. Finally, the clinical applications of the FAQ could be explored. Responses by clients may provide data regarding their willingness to try forgiveness as a potential process in therapy as well as identify certain areas in which an individual is experiencing difficulties. It may also provide a good tool for therapeutic discussion.

Overall, it is important to stress that the FAQ is in the initial stages of development; consequently, the results of this study should be interpreted cautiously. The initial psychometrics are encouraging, but significant work on establishing the validity of this instrument remains. Therefore, even though the results are interesting and contribute to the forgiveness literature, caution should be taken when generalizing from the results of this study.

However, although the validity of the FAQ as a psychometric instrument is not fully established, the results of this study are encouraging and interesting. The FAQ is an instrument that, with further validation, may continue to help researchers understand the process of interpersonal forgiveness. As literature on the role of forgiveness continues to develop, the FAQ may prove important in both counseling research and practice.

REFERENCES

Enright, R. D., Eastin, D. L., Golden, S., Sarinopoulos, I., & Freedman, S. {1992}. Interpersonal forgiveness within the helping professions: An attempt to resolve differences of opinion. Counseling and Values, 36, 84-103.

Enright, R. D., & the Human Development Study Group. (1991). The moral development of forgiveness. In W. M. Kurtines & J. L. Gerwitz (Eds.), Handbook of moral behavior and development (pp. 123-152). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Ferch, S. R. (1998). Intentional forgiving as a counseling intervention. Journal of Counseling & Development, 76, 261-270.

Fitzgibbons, R. P. (1986). The cognitive and emotive uses of forgiveness in the treatment of anger. Psychotherapy, 23, 629-633.

Freedman, S. R., & Enright, R. D. (1996). Forgiveness as an intervention goal with incest survivors. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 983-992.

Hebl, J. H., & Enright, R. D. (1993). Forgiveness as a psychotherapeutic goal with elderly females. Psychotherapy, 30, 658-667.

Hope, D. (1987). The healing paradox of forgiveness. Psychotherapy, 24, 240-244.

Mauger, P. A., Freeman, T., McBride, A. G., Perry, J. E., Grove, D. C., & McKinney, K. E. (1992). The measurement of forgiveness: Preliminary research. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 11, 170-180.

McCullough, M. E., Sandage, S. J., & Worthington, E. L., Jr. (1997). To forgive is human. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

McCullough, M. E., & Worthington, E. L., Jr. (1994). Encouraging clients to forgive people who have hurt them: Review, critique, and research prospectus. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 22, 3-20.

McCullough, M. E., & Worthington, E. L., Jr. (1995). Promoting forgiveness: A comparison of two brief psychoeducational group interventions with a waiting-list control. Counseling and Values, 40, 55-68.

McCullough, M. E., Worthington, E. L., Jr., & Rachal, K. C. (1997). Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 321-336.

Nietzsche, F. (1956). The genealogy of morals (F. Golfing, Trans.). New York: Doubleday. (Original work published 1887)

Smedes, L. B. (1996). The art of forgiving. New York: Ballantine Books.

Subkoviak, M. J., Enright, R. D., Wu, C., Gassin, E. A., Freedman, S., Olson, L. M., & Sarinopoulos, I. (1995). Measuring interpersonal forgiveness in late adolescence and middle adulthood. Journal of Adolescence, 18, 641-655.

Veenstra, G. (1992). Psychological concepts of forgiveness. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 11, 160-169.

Worthington, E. L., Jr., & DiBlasio, F. A. (1990). Promoting mutual forgiveness within the fractured relationship. Psychotherapy, 27, 219-223.

APPENDIX

Forgiveness Attitudes Questionnaire

Part I

Below are 26 situations in which some hurt has occurred. Some of the hurts could be considered mild, while some of them might be considered very severe. For each of the case scenarios, attempt to place yourself in the situation and determine how easy the situation would be to forgive. On the attached answer sheet (bubble sheet), please rate your own forgiveness response to each of the presented case scenarios according to the following scale.
  1 = I definitely could not forgive this situation.
  2 = I would have a very hard time forgiving this
      situation and probably would not do it.
  3 = I don't know if I would forgive this situation or not.
  4 = It would be difficult, but I would probably
      forgive this situation.
  5 = I could easily forgive this situation.


1. A person has a friend with whom he/she has shared a very private secret, which the friend promised to keep in confidence. Within a week, the person discovers that the friend has told several people about the secret. When confronted, the friend indicates that he/she was not aware that it was a secret. If you were the person whose trust was betrayed, how would you respond?

2. A person goes to his/her spouse and reports that he/she has had intercourse with another person. This person reports that it was a onetime occurrence over a year ago and that he/she is very sorry for what has happened, indicating that it will never happen again, and asks for forgiveness. If you were told this by your spouse, how would you respond?

3. A person discovers that his/her spouse has been engaged in several long-term sexual affairs over a period of several years. This person indicates to the spouse that "yes, the affairs occurred, but they really didn't mean anything" and then asks for forgiveness. If you were the spouse who was "cheated on," how would you have responded?

4. A person has been very abusive (physically, verbally) over a period of several years. This person's spouse continually pleads for the abuse to quit, but it does not. After 10 years of this abuse, the abuser approaches his/her spouse and indicates that he/she is very sorry for the abuse over the past several years and asks for forgiveness. If you were the abused spouse, how would you respond?

5. A parent comes home from the bar drunk one evening, sneaks into his/her child's room, and fondles the child. The next day, the parent realizes what has occurred, asks for the child's forgiveness, and promises to seek help. If you were this child, could you forgive your parent?

6. A couple gets divorced, and one parent moves to another state where he/she remarries and discontinues contact with the children from the first marriage. Twenty-five years later, this parent returns, apologizing for losing contact with the children, and wants to resume a relationship with them. If you were one of these children, how would you respond to the parent who left?

7. A person kidnaps and rapes someone at gun point. The victim presses charges and the rapist is convicted of first-degree sexual assault and serves 15 years for the offense. While this person is serving the prison term, he/she develops a religious faith and through a letter, seeks the victims forgiveness. If you were the victim, how would you respond to the rapist?

8. A person has been working a great deal of hours on a project for his/ her boss. When the project is finally completed, a coworker claims that he/she was primarily responsible for completion. The boss gives that person the promotion instead of you. If you were the person who completed the project, how would you react toward your coworker?

9. An adolescent is driving to spend some time with friends. On the way there, the young driver is struck and killed by a drunk driver who crossed over the center line. The driver approaches the parents at the court case and indicates that he/she is very sorry and wishes there was something that could be done. If you were the parents of the victim, how would you respond to the driver?

10. A thief breaks into a home and surprises the residents who live there. In a struggle, the thief shoots one of the residents who suffers a spinal injury, which makes him/her a quadriplegic. If you were the person who was shot, could you forgive the thief?

11. A student is called into a professor's office to discuss a situation concerning a research paper. The professor tells the student that he/she is being expelled for plagiarism. The student did not plagiarize the paper but could not convince the professor and is therefore expelled from the university. If you were the student, could you forgive the professor?

12. A deer hunter is in the woods hunting and hears a noise approaching. The hunter sees a deer, and without looking at what is beyond the target, fires the rifle. The hunter misses the deer, but accidentally hits and kills another hunter. If you were the spouse of the hunter who was killed, could you forgive the other hunter?

13. A person is driving a car on a snowy day in the Midwest. With this person are his/her two children. The driver hits an icy patch and hits a guardrail, killing both of the children. If you were this person, could you forgive yourself?

14. A person is driving a car on a snowy day in the Midwest. With this person are his/her two children. The driver hits an icy patch and hits a guardrail, killing both of the children. If you were this person's spouse, could you forgive this driver?

15. A child goes to the hospital for minor surgery. However, during the surgery, there are complications and the child dies. The doctor explains the situation to the parents and apologizes. If you were the parents, could you forgive the doctor?

16. Two people have been dating seriously for several years and are considering marriage within the next year or two. However, one of them discovers the other one kissing someone at a party. The offender apologizes, says that it was a mistake and it will never happen again. If you discovered the person you were seriously dating in this situation, could you forgive him/her?

17. A person is having breakfast before an important business meeting scheduled with several important colleagues when a waiter spills a glass of juice in his/her lap. If you were this person, could you forgive the waiter?

18. A person is driving casually down a road when another driver pulls out from a stop sign, causing a fender bender. The other driver apologizes and offers to repair the damages. If you were this driver, how would you respond to the person causing the fender bender?

19. A parent has spent several years verbally abusing his/her children, indicating to them that they will never amount to anything and are worthless. This continues well into adulthood. On the parent's deathbed, he/she asks forgiveness from the children. If you were one of the children, could you forgive this parent?

20. A person has unprotected sex with someone who claimed to be "safe." Later, the victim discovers that the offender was infected with HIV and knew at the time of the sexual encounter. The offender shows no remorse for the behavior. If you were the person who became infected, how would you respond?

21. An overweight student is bullied for several years by two students in his/her class. Whenever the bullies can, they make fun of the overweight student by name-calling, poking, and encouraging other students to participate. If you were the overweight student, how would you respond to the bullies?

22. A newly married couple has an argument about how the finances are being handled within the marriage. By the end of the argument, both members have insulted each other's families, jobs, and personalities. They do not speak to each other for the rest of the day. If you were one of the spouses, how would you respond?

23. A person continually works late at the job, avoiding attending any family functions. This person's spouse asks him/her repeatedly to spend more time with them, but the worker continues to apologize yet make excuses for the next time. If your spouse were always working late and making excuses, how would you respond?

24. A person spent several years as a member of a group where he/she committed many hate crimes. After several years, the person realizes the error of his/her ways and asks forgiveness of several people hurt during this person's time in the hate group. If this person committed a hate crime against you, how would you respond?

25. A person is held hostage for several years by an extremist group in South America. He/she is repeatedly beaten and treated very poorly by the kidnappers. When he/she is released by the kidnappers, a guard who administered the beatings several times during the years asked for forgiveness. If you were the person released by the kidnappers, how would you have responded?

26. A parent engages in repeated sexual abuse of his/her child over a period of several years. The parent is never prosecuted and denies the incident until death. If you were the child, how would you respond?

Jason E. Kanz is a doctoral student of counseling psychology in the Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. This article was based on the master's thesis work of the author, which was supported by a grant from the Department of Counseling and Student Personnel at Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University- Mankato). The author thanks Diane Coursol, Elizabeth Altmaier, Daniel Clay, Gerald Stone, and all of the participants who volunteered their time to participate in this study. Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to Jason E. Kanz, Counseling Psychology Program, Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, University of Iowa, 361 Lindquist Center, Iowa City, IA 52242 (e-mail: jason-kanz@uiowa.edu).
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Author:KANZ, JASON E.
Publication:Counseling and Values
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2000
Words:7200
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