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Relations Among Apology, Forgiveness, and Communicative Responses to Hurtful Messages
Unformatted Document Text:  Forgiveness and Communication 4 calling someone lazy or stupid (Vangelisti & Sprague, 1998). Vangelisti (1994) identified nine specific types of hurtful messages, the most common of which dealt with disclosure of information (e.g., “I don’t love you anymore”) evaluations of value, worth, or quality (e.g., “This relationship has been a waste of my time”), accusations linked to a person’s faults and/or actions (“You are a liar and a cheat”), directives (“Don’t call me anymore”), and expressions of desire or preference (“I don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore”). When these types of hurtful events occur, some couples are able to mend their relationships and move forward, but for others the damage is too great and the relationship de- escalates and/or terminates. Forgiveness is a critical component that helps determine whether couples can repair their relationships and restore closeness following hurtful events (Emmers & Canary, 1996; Fenell, 1993; Kelly, 1998; Worthington, 1998). Thus, the purpose of this study is to investigate communication responses related to forgiveness. Utilizing McCullough et al.’s model of interpersonal forgiveness (McCullough, Rachal, Sandage, Worthington, Brown, & Hight, 1998; McCullough, Worthington, & Rachal, 1997) as a basic theoretical foundation, we examine associations between partner apologies, forgiveness, and the hurt individual’s communicative responses to the hurtful event. Forgiveness Forgiveness has been conceptualized in terms of a person’s motivation to communicate in positive rather than negative ways following a hurtful event. For example, Hieder (1958) argued that forgiveness is characterized by a foregoing of vengeful interpersonal behavior toward the partner. More recently, McCullough and his colleagues (McCullough et al, 1997; McCullough et al., 1998) advanced a formal model of interpersonal forgiveness. These researchers suggested that communication is an important component in the forgiveness process, both in terms of inducing forgiveness and in terms of showing whether or not forgiveness has occurred.

Authors: Bachman, Guy. and Guerrero, Laura.
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Forgiveness and Communication 4
calling someone lazy or stupid (Vangelisti & Sprague, 1998). Vangelisti (1994) identified nine
specific types of hurtful messages, the most common of which dealt with disclosure of
information (e.g., “I don’t love you anymore”) evaluations of value, worth, or quality (e.g., “This
relationship has been a waste of my time”), accusations linked to a person’s faults and/or actions
(“You are a liar and a cheat”), directives (“Don’t call me anymore”), and expressions of desire or
preference (“I don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore”).
When these types of hurtful events occur, some couples are able to mend their
relationships and move forward, but for others the damage is too great and the relationship de-
escalates and/or terminates. Forgiveness is a critical component that helps determine whether
couples can repair their relationships and restore closeness following hurtful events (Emmers &
Canary, 1996; Fenell, 1993; Kelly, 1998; Worthington, 1998). Thus, the purpose of this study is
to investigate communication responses related to forgiveness. Utilizing McCullough et al.’s
model of interpersonal forgiveness (McCullough, Rachal, Sandage, Worthington, Brown, &
Hight, 1998; McCullough, Worthington, & Rachal, 1997) as a basic theoretical foundation, we
examine associations between partner apologies, forgiveness, and the hurt individual’s
communicative responses to the hurtful event.
Forgiveness
Forgiveness has been conceptualized in terms of a person’s motivation to communicate in
positive rather than negative ways following a hurtful event. For example, Hieder (1958) argued
that forgiveness is characterized by a foregoing of vengeful interpersonal behavior toward the
partner. More recently, McCullough and his colleagues (McCullough et al, 1997; McCullough et
al., 1998) advanced a formal model of interpersonal forgiveness. These researchers suggested
that communication is an important component in the forgiveness process, both in terms of
inducing forgiveness and in terms of showing whether or not forgiveness has occurred.


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