Relationships and Transgressions: The Impact of Offender Relationship and Forgiveness on Written Language, Mental Health, and Flourishing

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Lindsey Root Luna

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Transgressions within relationships impact an individual’s daily life. When an offense occurs, forgiveness toward the offender is shown to have positive influences on the victim’s mental health and flourishing. This study is designed to further examine the impact of the victim’s relationship with the offender on forgiveness, as well as the effect of forgiveness on written language, mental health, and flourishing. Questionnaire and free response writing methods were employed for data collection. Participants came in for two sessions spaced one week apart and completed a survey at each visit. The surveys included questions about a particular offense, their relationship to the offender, levels of depression and anxiety, flourishing, and satisfaction with life. Discussion of the offender relationship included questions about closeness, commitment, and importance of the relationship. In addition, subjects engaged in mental imagery about the offense. Following the imagery, they described their thoughts, feelings, physical reactions, and what they would want to do or say in response to the offense and offender. We predict that the levels of closeness, commitment, and importance in the offender relationship will predict levels of forgiveness. We then expect that relationship characteristics will be related to written language use and changes in mental health. We hypothesize relationship characteristics will positively predict changes in flourishing and words conveying positive affect, social orientation, benefit-finding, forgiveness, and gratitude. Conversely, we expect relationship characteristics to negatively predict changes in anxiety, depression, and words conveying negative affect and cost. Furthermore, we predict that forgiveness will mediate the effects of relationship characteristics on written language, and relationship characteristics on mental health.


This research was supported by The Carl Frost Center for Social Science Research.

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