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J Pers. 2012 Apr;80(2):503-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2011.00728.x. Epub 2012 Feb 18.

Conciliatory gestures facilitate forgiveness and feelings of friendship by making transgressors appear more agreeable.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124-0751, USA. btabak@psych.ucla.edu


The authors examined how conciliatory gestures exhibited in response to interpersonal transgressions influence forgiveness and feelings of friendship with the transgressor. In Study 1, 163 undergraduates who had recently been harmed were examined longitudinally. Conciliatory gestures exhibited by transgressors predicted higher rates of forgiveness over 21 days, and this relationship was mediated by victims' perceptions of their transgressors' Agreeableness. Study 2 was an experiment including 145 undergraduates who experienced a breach in trust from an anonymous partner during an iterated prisoner's dilemma. When transgressors apologized and offered financial compensation, participants reported higher levels of forgiveness and feelings of friendship when compared to a control condition and an aggravating condition. The effects of apology/compensation on forgiveness and perceived friendship were mediated by victims' perceptions of their transgressors' Agreeableness. Results suggest that conciliatory gestures promote forgiveness in part by depicting transgressors as more sympathetic, considerate, fair, and just (i.e., agreeable).

© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Personality © 2012, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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