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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2010 May;98(5):734-49. doi: 10.1037/a0017838.

The doormat effect: when forgiving erodes self-respect and self-concept clarity.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, 2029 Sheridan Road, Swift Hall, Room 102, Evanston, IL 60208-2710, USA. l-luchies@northwestern.edu

Erratum in

  • J Pers Soc Psychol. 2010 Jul;99(1):119.

Abstract

We build on principles from interdependence theory and evolutionary psychology to propose that forgiving bolsters one's self-respect and self-concept clarity if the perpetrator has acted in a manner that signals that the victim will be safe and valued in a continued relationship with the perpetrator but that forgiving diminishes one's self-respect and self-concept clarity if the perpetrator has not. Study 1 employed a longitudinal design to demonstrate that the association of marital forgiveness with trajectories of self-respect over the first 5 years of marriage depends on the spouse's dispositional tendency to indicate that the partner will be safe and valued (i.e., agreeableness). Studies 2 and 3 employed experimental procedures to demonstrate that the effects of forgiveness on self-respect and self-concept clarity depend on the perpetrator's event-specific indication that the victim will be safe and valued (i.e., amends). Study 4 employed a longitudinal design to demonstrate that the association of forgiveness with subsequent self-respect and self-concept clarity similarly depends on the extent to which the perpetrator has made amends. These studies reveal that, under some circumstances, forgiveness negatively impacts the self.

PMID:
20438221
DOI:
10.1037/a0017838
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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