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Abstract

Until recently, researchers operationalized and measured the psychological construct of forgiveness at the individual, rather than the group, level. Social psychologists started applying forgiveness to groups and examining the role intergroup forgiveness may have in conflict resolution and peace efforts. Initial attempts to define and measure forgiveness at the group level either assumed individual and group capacities were the same, or insufficiently described what intergroup forgiveness meant. We developed a new measure of intergroup forgiveness, and a novel group administration process, that operationalized the construct in a philosophically coherent way. Our conceptualization of intergroup forgiveness was rooted in what groups, as opposed to the individuals who compose them, have the capacity to do. We collected data on the psychometric properties of the measure with 595 participants in three different geographic and cultural settings. We assessed the factor structure, internal consistency, and validity of the measure. We also assessed a novel group-based method of administering the measure to better understand the relationship between group based reports and self-reports of intergroup forgiveness. The factor structure of the measure was supported, and the measure had strong internal consistency, as well as convergent and discriminant validity. The group administration process revealed important group dynamics and was not statistically different than a standard self-report administration; this finding has important implications for research and practice.

Author Bio(s)

Robert Enright, a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a board member of the International Forgiveness Institute, Inc., led a study group of researchers and students exploring the psychology of forgiveness. This group included scholars from around the world investigating different facets of forgiveness.

Robert D. Enright, University of Wisconsin-Madison and International Forgiveness Institute, Inc.; Julie Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Fu Na, Beijing Normal University; Tomaz Erzar, University of Ljubljana; Matthew Hirshberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Tina Huang, National Chung-Cheng University; John Klatt, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Chansoon (Danielle) Lee, National Council of State Boards of Nursing; Benjamin Boateng, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Preston Boggs, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Tung-En Hsiao, National Chung-Cheng University; Chelsea Olson, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Mei Ling Shu, Beijing Normal University; Jacqueline Song, International Forgiveness Institute; Peiying Wu, University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Baoyu Zhang, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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