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Psychology of religion and spirituality.

Schultz, J.M., Tallman, B.A., and Altmaier, E.M.

Pathways to Posttraumatic Growth: The Contributions of Forgiveness and Importance of Religion and Spirituality

Vol. 2,104-114 (2010)

Posttraumatic growth has become a growing area of interest with the positive psychology movement. While researchers have found increases in health from posttraumatic growth and also from forgiveness, the affects of forgiveness on posttraumatic growth after a person has been wronged has not been studied. Forgiveness is defined, in this case, as the change in feelings toward a person who was hurtful from negative feelings (e.g., anger, bitterness, avoidance, revenge, ea.) to positive feelings (e.g., empathy, benevolence, etc.). Similarly, posttraumatic growth is defined as the positive change that takes place in a person after a negative or difficult event. Schultz, Tallman, and Altmaier sought to examine whether forgiveness would lead to more growth and whether more religious-spiritual importance would increase this relationship between forgiveness and growth.

Participants (n = 146) were recruited from a num-ber of community settings and were screened for age (i.e., must be between 17 and 75 years) and transgression (i.e., wrong doing of another person must not be on going and needed to be within the last 5 years). Eligible participants then completed a transgression narrative, demographic information, religious-spiritual importance ratings, Impact of Event Scale (IES-R), Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations Inventory (TRIM-18), and Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI). TRIM-18 consisted of subscales for forgiveness including unforgiveness, avoidance, revenge, and benevolence. PTGI consisted of a total score and five subscales including new possibilities, appreciation of life, spiritual change, relating to others, and personal strength.

The sample was found to be diverse and heterogeneous in the areas of ethnicity, religious affiliation, marital status, and education. T-tests revealed that there were no mean differences for age or gender. With regards to the first hypothesis, that forgiveness would lead to growth, they found that benevolence was significandy positively correlated with relating to others (r = .28, p < .01) and that unforgiveness was significantly positively related to appreciation of life (r = .22, p < .01). With regards to the second hypothesis, importance of religion and spirituality did mediate the relationship between benevolence and growth. Importance of religion and spirituality did not mediate the relationship between forgiveness and growth, contrary to what they hypothesized.

Essentially, findings support the idea that the importance of religious-spirituality is more strongly related to growth than forgiveness of someone, after being wronged by someone. The authors attribute this to the possibility that religion and spirituality provide a framework and meaning that is more helpful for growth than forgiveness of someone alone. Findings also show that benevolence was only related to interpersonal growth, while forgiveness seems to impact other relationships in life. Findings also indicate the need for therapists to be mindful of clients' religion and spirituality.

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Title Annotation:Journal File; 'Pathways to Posttraumatic Growth: The Contributions of Forgiveness and Importance of Religion and Spirituality'
Publication:Journal of Psychology and Theology
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 22, 2012
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