An offender's expression of remorse plays an important role following relational transgressions, yet it is not well understood how the experience and expression of remorse relate to both victim responses to hurt and forgiveness in close relationships. This study uses a social functionalist framework to investigate the role of remorse in the forgiveness process and tests whether offender remorse experiences mediate the associations between victim responses to hurt and remorse expressions. Undergraduate participants (N=671) completed questionnaires about a time when they hurt a close relational partner and reported their partners' responses to hurt, their own experiences and expressions of remorse, and their perceptions of forgiveness. Results indicated that victims' sad communication positively predicted offenders' other-oriented and affiliation remorse experiences; victims' threatening communication positively predicted offenders' self-focused remorse experience; and victims' conciliatory communication and withdrawal positively predicted offenders' affiliation and self-focused remorse experiences. Results of the mediation analyses revealed that self-focused remorse fully mediated the relationship between victim threatening communication and low status behaviors; other-oriented remorse partially mediated the association between victim sad communication and apology/concern behaviors; and affiliation partially mediated the relationship between victim conciliatory communication and connection behaviors. Victims' withdrawal behaviors and offenders' use of compensation were not related. Finally, offenders' apology/concern and connection behaviors associated positively with perceptions of forgiveness, whereas low status behaviors negatively predicted forgiveness. Use of compensation following a hurtful event was not significantly related to forgiveness. Results are interpreted within the framework of evolutionary psychology and further validate the functional approach to studying emotion.
- Assessing the role of remorse in interpersonal forgiveness
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Statement of Responsibility
by Monica Gracyalny