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Relations Among Apology, Forgiveness, and Communicative Responses to Hurtful Messages
Unformatted Document Text:  Forgiveness and Communication 6 principles also suggests that it is important for the errant partner to admit responsibility for her or her actions (Heider, 1958; Weiner, Graham, Peter, & Zmuidinas, 1991). These conclusions regarding sincerity, empathy, and responsibility are consistent with research conducted by Kelly (1998), who had people write narratives about a time when they had granted forgiveness to someone. In 31% of these narratives, individuals reported being motivated to grant forgiveness because the partner showed remorse and/or accepted responsibility for the untoward act. In another 21% of these narratives, individuals forgave their partners as a way of restoring well- being to themselves and/or the partner. Of course, if the hurtful event is particularly severe, even a heartfelt apology may not be enough to begin the process of relational repair (Bennett & Earwaker, 1994; Girard & Mullet, 1997; Kelly, 1998). Nonetheless, based on the research evidence as well as the predictions from McCullough and colleagues’ model, we expect that: H1: The extent to which the errant partner is perceived to have sincerely apologized will associate positively with forgiveness. Communicative Responses Related to Hurtful Events Forgiveness (or the lack thereof) is manifest in the hurt individual’s behavior toward the errant partner (McCullough et al., 1997, 1998). McCullough et al theorized that when people are hurt they have a natural protective tendency to either fight against or flee from the person who injured them. The fight tendency, which is usually heightened when people perceive that the offender intentionally hurt them, involves the motivation to seek revenge and bring harm to the errant partner. The flight tendency, by contrast, involves the motivation to avoid personal or psychological contact with the offender as a way of alleviating negative affect and preventing future harm. Unless forgiveness is granted, the hurt person is usually motivated to engage in both vengeful behavior and avoidance. If, however, the hurt person forgives the partner, McCullough et al. (1997, 1998) theorized that a motivational transformation takes place; instead of seeking

Authors: Bachman, Guy. and Guerrero, Laura.
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Forgiveness and Communication 6
principles also suggests that it is important for the errant partner to admit responsibility for her or
her actions (Heider, 1958; Weiner, Graham, Peter, & Zmuidinas, 1991). These conclusions
regarding sincerity, empathy, and responsibility are consistent with research conducted by Kelly
(1998), who had people write narratives about a time when they had granted forgiveness to
someone. In 31% of these narratives, individuals reported being motivated to grant forgiveness
because the partner showed remorse and/or accepted responsibility for the untoward act. In
another 21% of these narratives, individuals forgave their partners as a way of restoring well-
being to themselves and/or the partner. Of course, if the hurtful event is particularly severe, even
a heartfelt apology may not be enough to begin the process of relational repair (Bennett &
Earwaker, 1994; Girard & Mullet, 1997; Kelly, 1998). Nonetheless, based on the research
evidence as well as the predictions from McCullough and colleagues’ model, we expect that:
H1: The extent to which the errant partner is perceived to have sincerely apologized will
associate positively with forgiveness.
Communicative Responses Related to Hurtful Events
Forgiveness (or the lack thereof) is manifest in the hurt individual’s behavior toward the
errant partner (McCullough et al., 1997, 1998). McCullough et al theorized that when people are
hurt they have a natural protective tendency to either fight against or flee from the person who
injured them. The fight tendency, which is usually heightened when people perceive that the
offender intentionally hurt them, involves the motivation to seek revenge and bring harm to the
errant partner. The flight tendency, by contrast, involves the motivation to avoid personal or
psychological contact with the offender as a way of alleviating negative affect and preventing
future harm. Unless forgiveness is granted, the hurt person is usually motivated to engage in both
vengeful behavior and avoidance. If, however, the hurt person forgives the partner, McCullough
et al. (1997, 1998) theorized that a motivational transformation takes place; instead of seeking


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