Propensity to Forgive: Findings from Lebanon

Journal article

Vinsonneau, Geneviève; Etienne Mullet & Fabiola Azar (1999) Propensity to Forgive: Findings from Lebanon, Journal of Peace Research 36 (2).

The propensity to forgive a severe offense is studied in a sample of 48 people from three religious communities in Lebanon: Catholics, Maronites, and Orthodox. The effects of a number of circumstances: intent to harm, cancellation of consequences, religious and social proximity to the offender and apologies from the offender, on the propensity to forgive, and the variation of these effects as a function of age, gender, and educational level, were considered. The method was an application of Norman Anderson's functional theory of cognition. Twenty-four stories were constructed by varying systematically the levels of each of the four factors quoted above. Participants were asked to rate in each case their propensity to forgive on a forgiveness scale. The more important results concern: (a) the overall level of propensity to forgive, which was higher than expected, (b) the impact of the religious proximity factor, which was very slight, and (c) the effect of the apologies factor, which was extremely important.

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