Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Developing an Individualized Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) as a Potential Measure of Self-Forgiveness Related to Negative and Positive Behavior

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Developing an Individualized Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) as a Potential Measure of Self-Forgiveness Related to Negative and Positive Behavior

Article excerpt

The topic of self-forgiveness has only recently been studied systematically in psychology, with limited empirical research on the tendency to self-forgive (Wohl, Pychyl, & Bennet, 2010). And even the results thus far are mixed. On the one hand, some studies suggest that self-forgiveness may be deemed negative in some respects. For example, it may be related to narcissism and self-excusing (Sirois, 2004; Strelan, 2007; Tangney, Boone & Dearing, 2005). Furthermore, Vitz and Meade (2011) suggested that self-forgiveness might also be involved in the psychological problems that comprise "splitting the self" creating various problems such as a conflict of interest between the self that judges and the self that is judged. On the other hand, other studies have indicated that self-forgiveness may have positive benefits, such as facilitating self-correction when working toward a goal or value (e.g., Wohl et al., 2010) and may even benefit psychotherapy (e.g., Fergusson, Horwood, & Ridder, 2006). The fact that self-forgiveness is itself ill-defined may, in part, account for the conflicting evidence (Vitz & Meade, 2011).

Although self-forgiveness remains ill-defined, one common feature seems to be the skill of noticing and accepting negative feelings and outcomes that may arise from a negative action (e.g., failing in something considered important) instead of avoiding or denying it. In highlighting this common aspect or skill involved in self-forgiveness, we are not suggesting that this is self-forgiveness per se but may be one essential aspect of self-forgiveness. In other words, we are arguing that without acknowledging negative feelings and outcomes there would be no necessity for forgiveness. For this reason, feelings and outcomes that may result from "problematic" actions were explored in our previous studies (Bast & Barnes-Holmes, 2014, 2015) and in the current research.

Before continuing, it seems important to clarify our use of the term self-forgiveness. Specifically, we use this term simply to orient us toward a particular psychological domain, in much the same way that the term language and cognition serves as a general orienting device for researchers working on Relational Frame Theory (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, 2001, p. 45). In other words, our research is not designed to provide a technical definition or psychometrically well-developed treatment of self-forgiveness as a psychological construct. Indeed, it may well be that the type of research we are pursuing will in due course render the concept of self-forgiveness largely redundant (see Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Wilson, 2012, for an extended discussion of the general approach to psychological science we are adopting here). For the time being, however, we will continue to use the term self-forgiveness because its common-sense meaning seems closely related to the psychological domain we are attempting to study. We will return to this issue toward the end of the current article.

Almost all attempts to measure self-forgiveness thus far have relied exclusively on self-report scales (see Bast & Barnes-Holmes, 2014, 2015). That is, participants are typically asked to complete questionnaires and rate their agreement with items such as "I hold grudges against myself for negative things I've done" or "It is really hard for me to accept myself once I've messed up" (Yamhure, Thompson, Snyder, & Hoffman, 2005). These measures are typically completed in the absence of time pressure, and thus participants are free to reflect at length on how to respond to each item. Doing so has potential advantages and disadvantages. On a positive note, participants may need ample time to think about a complex concept such as self-forgiveness and how it applies directly to their lives. On a negative note, this lengthy response time may permit undue influence of a self-presentation bias. For example, participants may not wish to appear excessively self-forgiving so as not to be judged as being too lenient on themselves. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.