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Relations Among Apology, Forgiveness, and Communicative Responses to Hurtful Messages
Unformatted Document Text:  Forgiveness and Communication 22 reflected in people’s reports of communication, with forgiveness associated positively with conciliatory behavior and negatively with destructive communication. Although the results of the present study are generally supportive of McCullough’s interpersonal model of forgiveness, these data also suggest some potentially important refinements in theorizing about forgiveness. First, certain types of conciliatory and destructive communicative responses may be more likely than others to reflect forgiveness. Specifically, de- escalation, revenge, and integrative communication shared the strongest associations with forgiveness in this study. Second, forgiveness only seems to mediate the association between apology and these same three responses—de-escalation, revenge, and integrative communication. Other responses, such as loyalty and distributive communication, had direct associations with apology that were not mediated by forgiveness. Relational repair had a direct association with forgiveness, but not with apology. Third, loyalty and distributive communication operated in unexpected ways when considered alongside the other responses in the regression analyses. Loyalty showed a small negative association with apology; distributive communication associated positively with apology and negatively with forgiveness. Finally, negative avoidance was not very helpful in predicting apology or forgiveness, despite scholars’ claims that forgiveness constitutes a decreased motivation to engage in avoidant behaviors (e.g., McCullough et al., 1997, 1998). De-escalation and Revenge Of the four destructive communicative responses tested, de-escalation and revenge produced the strongest and most consistent associations with forgiveness. De-escalation and revenge were also moderately correlated with each other, suggesting that they are sometimes used together as a response to hurtful events. These findings are consistent with the rationale behind McCullough and colleagues’ (1997, 1998) conceptualization of forgiveness. De-

Authors: Bachman, Guy. and Guerrero, Laura.
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Forgiveness and Communication 22
reflected in people’s reports of communication, with forgiveness associated positively with
conciliatory behavior and negatively with destructive communication.
Although the results of the present study are generally supportive of McCullough’s
interpersonal model of forgiveness, these data also suggest some potentially important
refinements in theorizing about forgiveness. First, certain types of conciliatory and destructive
communicative responses may be more likely than others to reflect forgiveness. Specifically, de-
escalation, revenge, and integrative communication shared the strongest associations with
forgiveness in this study. Second, forgiveness only seems to mediate the association between
apology and these same three responses—de-escalation, revenge, and integrative
communication. Other responses, such as loyalty and distributive communication, had direct
associations with apology that were not mediated by forgiveness. Relational repair had a direct
association with forgiveness, but not with apology. Third, loyalty and distributive
communication operated in unexpected ways when considered alongside the other responses in
the regression analyses. Loyalty showed a small negative association with apology; distributive
communication associated positively with apology and negatively with forgiveness. Finally,
negative avoidance was not very helpful in predicting apology or forgiveness, despite scholars’
claims that forgiveness constitutes a decreased motivation to engage in avoidant behaviors (e.g.,
McCullough et al., 1997, 1998).
De-escalation and Revenge
Of the four destructive communicative responses tested, de-escalation and revenge
produced the strongest and most consistent associations with forgiveness. De-escalation and
revenge were also moderately correlated with each other, suggesting that they are sometimes
used together as a response to hurtful events. These findings are consistent with the rationale
behind McCullough and colleagues’ (1997, 1998) conceptualization of forgiveness. De-


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