Unforgiveness, Forgiveness, and Justice: Scientific Findings on Feelings and Physiology

Authored by: Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet

Handbook of Forgiveness

Print publication date:  June  2005
Online publication date:  December  2007

Print ISBN: 9780415949491
eBook ISBN: 9780203955673
Adobe ISBN: 9781135410889


 Download Chapter



Interpersonal hurts and offenses affect nearly everyone. Whether committed intentionally or unintentionally, between loved ones or strangers, transgressions can arouse strong and negative emotions connected to guilt and shame in transgressors, and sadness, fear, and anger in victims. These emotions can emerge as an amalgamation of hurt-filled bitterness, or unforgiveness. Transgressors are faced with the decision of whether to apologize and seek forgiveness. Even if never asked, victims are faced with the question of what to do about their unforgiveness. Some may seek to override their pain by stoking the fires of revenge; others may try to reduce their unforgiveness as they accept that bad things happen even to good people, tolerate it, minimize it, ignore it, excuse it, or forbear it. Alternatively, victims can also choose two potentially complementary options to respond to the injustice and reduce their attendant unforgiveness: They can pursue justice, and they can grant forgiveness. In this chapter, I address the peripheral physiological patterns—of facial muscles, skin conductance, and cardiovascular measures—associated with unforgiveness, forgiveness, and justice, organizing the accumulated data patterns within a framework of emotion.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.