Relational Spirituality and Forgiveness: Appraisals That May Hinder Forgiveness

Document Type


Publication Date



In three studies, we focused on negative spiritual appraisals theorized to hinder forgiveness: being angry toward God, viewing the transgression as a desecration, or viewing the offender as evil. Because the latter construct did not have an existing measure, the first two studies describe exploratory (Study 1; N = 200) and confirmatory (Study 2; N = 300) factor analyses of the Viewing the Offender as Evil (VOE) scale. Then, in Study 3 (N = 425), we found that (a) all three negative appraisals of relational spirituality were related to greater unforgiveness, (b) viewing the offender as evil uniquely predicted unforgiveness after controlling for covariates, and (c) empathy partially mediated the relationship between viewing the offender as evil and unforgiveness. Although religious and spiritual factors can promote forgiveness, these studies highlight the ways in which they hinder forgiveness.