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Am J Psychol. 2007 Spring;120(1):25-46.

Cognitive processes involved in blame and blame-like judgments and in forgiveness and forgiveness-like judgments.

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Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.


Experiment 1 compared the cognitive processes involved in blame and forgiveness judgments under identical experimental conditions. Experiment 2 was a replication of Experiment 1 with 4 judgment scales: willingness to prosecute, willingness to avenge, resentment level, and willingness to make up. Participants were presented with 32 scenarios in which a doctor made a medical error. These situations contained 5 items: the degree of proximity with the doctor (e.g., a family doctor known since childhood), the degree of negligence, the severity of consequences, apologies or contrition, and cancellation of consequences. Functional cognitive analysis grouped judgments into 2 categories: blame-like judgments (blame, prosecution, and revenge) and forgiveness-like judgments (resentment, forgiveness, and reconciliation). Blame-like judgments were characterized by additive integration rules, with negligence followed by apologies as the 2 main cues. Forgiveness-like judgments were characterized by an interactive integration rule, with apologies followed by negligence as the 2 main cues.

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