Self-Control and Forgiveness: A Meta-Analytic Review

Document Type


Publication Date



In the 12 years since scholars first investigated the link between self-control and forgiveness (Finkel & Campbell, 2001), the literature investigating this relation has grown rapidly. The present article reports a meta-analytic review of this link across 40 independent samples and 5,105 independent observations. In addition, it investigates an array of potential moderators. Results revealed that the overall link between self-control and forgiveness is statistically robust and small to moderate in magnitude (r = .18). Consistent with the prevailing theoretical models, this link is stronger when forgiveness is assessed in terms of low vengeance (resisting retaliation: r = .31) rather than in terms of high benevolence (fostering prosociality: r = .16). Discussion focuses on the potentially crucial role of forgiveness, especially vengeance inhibition, in linking self-control to relationship well-being.