Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Evaluate Emotional and Decisional Forgiveness







Following a painful experience like those reported by women in the “me too” movement, many may work to forgive their offender to free themselves from the ongoing internal struggle caused by rehearsing the event and nursing anger.

Forgiveness, of course, should not be construed as excusing, pardoning, or tolerating abuse. Neither should survivors' forgiveness of their offenders reduce the responsibility of government and business leaders to act justly and provide safeguards against future offenses.

When people begin to work on forgiveness toward offenders for particularly horrific offenses like rape and murder, they may find strong emotions like anger and the desire for revenge make it seem impossible to overcome. Ev Worthington (Virginia Commonwealth University) and his colleagues have published two measures of forgiveness that divide forgiveness into two parts: Emotional and Decisional.

This makes sense to me as a clinician, a scientist, and a person who, like many, have had to forgive others. I had called the decisional part “dutiful” forgiveness because many cultures, including religious cultures, look at forgiveness as a duty. Thus, a person may act according to a sense of duty and decide to forgive an offender. They may find they are able to stop seeking revenge or stop avoiding their offender.

But, despite the decision to forgive an offender, the forgiver can be troubled by strong emotions, which persist despite the "decisional forgiveness." So, it can seem as if one has made little progress in forgiving, if the strong emotions persist. 

I think having two dimensions to consider may be helpful to survivors who wish to measure their progress in two different ways. The two measures can help clinicians as they guide clients through forgiveness and note that progress may be uneven. For example, the emotional aspect may proceed more slowly than the decisional aspect. Of course, researchers may also find the two measures helpful as additions to their surveys about relationships and counseling outcomes.

I will provide a link below to the two scales along with data indicating they have a history of reasonable values for reliability and validity statistics in published articles.

Following are examples:

DECISIONAL FORGIVENESS SCALE

Strongly Disagree (SD)
Disagree (D)
Neutral (N)
Agree (A)
Strongly Agree (SA)
1. I intend to try to hurt him or her in the same way he or she hurt me.
SD
D
N
A
SA
2. I will not try to help him or her if he or she needs something.
SD
D
N
A
SA






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EMOTIONAL FORGIVENESS SCALE

Strongly Disagree (SD)
Disagree (D)
Neutral (N)
Agree (A)
Strongly Agree (SA)
1. I care about him or her.
SD
D
N
A
SA
2. I no longer feel upset when I think of him or her.
SD
D
N
A
SA







Applied Statistics: Concepts for Counselors


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The two forgiveness scales

[I would include the entire scales here but they are published in copyrighted works. Researchers and educators may use the scales for non-commercial purposes. You can find a downloadable pdf file on Researchgate:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286221719_Measures_of_Forgiveness 


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FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton

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