Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

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Abstract

This between-subjects experiment focused on offender responses to their past interpersonal transgressions in self-identified Christian undergraduates (55 M, 85 F). Participants completed pre-post measures for one of four randomly assigned 20-minute writing conditions: repentance (i.e., writing about constructive sorrow, apology, restitution, behavior change), offense rumination (i.e., negative wallowing), self-justification (i.e., externalizing blame, minimizing costs), or distraction (i.e., daily details). Offense rumination and repentance writing included the most cost-oriented language; rumination had the most negative emotion language. Mixed within (pre vs. post) X between group ANOVA interactions yielded theoretically meaningful results. Repentance reduced self-condemnation and regret while increasing conciliatory motivations toward the victim (to apologize, make restitution, and seek forgiveness). Offense rumination was associated with remorse and self-condemning isolation from the victim and God. Self-justification reduced remorse and self-condemnation, and exaggerated perceptions of divine forgiveness. Implications for the interrelated literatures on interpersonal offenses, confession, apology, restitution, repentance, forgivenessseeking, and self-forgiveness are addressed. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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