Examining Group Forgiveness: Conceptual and Empirical Issues

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Abstract

What is group forgiveness and can it be measured in an unambiguous way? Recently, scientists have begun to consider the role group forgiveness may play in reducing conflict and enhancing prospects for peace among groups. The forgiveness construct has been, until very recently, primarily operationalized as an individual phenomenon. Increasingly, it is being mapped onto groups. These initial attempts either conflate individual and group capacities or insufficiently describe group forgiveness, rendering the construct ambiguous. While promoting group forgiveness might motivate intergroup peace, empirical support depends on coherent operationalization and sound measurement. We begin by examining the definition of interpersonal forgiveness and the emerging literature on group forgiveness. Based on this review, we present a philosophically coherent operationalization of group forgiveness. Finally, we consider future research directions for researchers interested in studying group forgiveness.

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