8 Communicating Forgiveness in Friendships and Dating Relationships

8 Communicating Forgiveness in Friendships and Dating Relationships

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Communicating Forgiveness in Friendships and Dating Relationships Andy J. Merolla Retrospective accounts of transgression and forgiveness situations in ongoing friendships and dating relationships were coded based on Kelley’s (1998) three forms of forgiveness granting (direct, indirect, and conditional). Across the sample, indirect forgiveness was reported most frequently, followed by direct and conditional forgiveness. Forgiveness- granting tendencies varied by relationship type, as friends reported more instances of indirect forgiveness than did dating partners, and dating partners reported more instances of conditional forgiveness than did friends. For both relationship types, trans- gressions of increasing severity and blameworthiness tended to be forgiven indirectly or conditionally. An additional focus of this study was ongoing negative affect (ONA) that persists after forgiveness has been communicated to a transgressor. ONA was salient for about 22 % of participants, was positively related to transgression severity and was negatively related to relational satisfaction. Conditional forgivers reported higher levels of ONA than did direct or indirect forgivers. Keywords: Communication; Conflict; Forgiveness; Friendship; Romantic Relationship Given forgiveness is believed to be a critical component of successful interpersonal is surprising some elements of the forgiveness process have received such scant research attention. Very little is known, for instance, about how forgiveness is communicated in close relationships and the variables linked to various forms of forgiveness granting (Exeline & Baumeister, 2000; Andy J. Merolla is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Colorado State Uni- versity. A version of this article was presented at the meeting of the International Communication Association, New York, 2005. Correspondence to: Andy J. Merolla, 209-A Willard Eddy Hall, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1783, U.S.A. E-mail: andy.merolla@colostate.edu Communication Studies Vol. 59, No. 2, April–June 2008, pp. 114–131 ISSN 1051-0974 (print)/ISSN 1745-1035 (online) # 2008 Central States Communication Association DOI: 10.1080/10510970802062428
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2005). The present study offers three research goals aimed at shedding light on forgiveness granting in friendships and dating relationships. The first goal of this study is to explore the frequencies with which dating partners and close friends employ three forms of forgiveness-granting communication identified by Kelley (1998): (a) direct forgiveness, (b) indirect forgiveness, and (c) conditional forgiveness. The second goal is to examine how victims’ perceptions of transgression severity and transgressor blameworthiness are linked to forgiveness- granting communication as past research has repeatedly demonstrated severity and
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This note was uploaded on 12/16/2009 for the course COM 312 taught by Professor Jacobsen during the Spring '09 term at ASU.

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8 Communicating Forgiveness in Friendships and Dating Relationships

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