Mapping Self-Forgiveness Attitudes Among Adults Living in Ibero-American Countries


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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to map the personal positions regarding self-forgiveness found among adults living in two Ibero-American countries. One hundred twenty adults living in Venezuela and 120 adults living in Portugal were presented with 36 vignettes depicting a situation in which they harmed a known person. They judged the extent to which they would, in each case, be able to forgive themselves. The scenarios were composed of all combinations of four factors: (a) the degree of intent of the act, (b) the degree of cancellation of consequences, (c) the presence of apologies, and (d) the victim’s forgiveness. Four qualitatively distinct positions were found. For 30%, self-forgiveness was always difficult, irrespective of circumstances. For 17%, it was always easy. For 43%, it depended mainly on the level of cancellation of consequences and on the presence of apologies. Finally, for 10%, it depended mainly on the presence of apologies and on the victim’s forgiveness. The Venezuelans showed a higher level of willingness to forgive the self than the Portuguese and took less into account the circumstances of the situation. In both countries, the percentage of participants who reported a basic incapacity to forgive the self was high: 28% in Portugal and 31% in Venezuela. As human disturbance is often the consequence of blaming the self, it would be useful to develop efficient self-forgiveness therapy for use in these countries.

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