Forgiveness Among Individuals:
Forgiving After Trauma, Grief, Loss or Violence
These research projects examine evidence from brain waves to blood
pressure, and explore strategies from small group gatherings to
national commissions. What are the effects of the forgiveness experience
on the brain, the spirit, and the life of the one who forgives?
& Forgiveness in South Africa: A Multidisciplinary Approach"
Audrey Chapman, Ph.D., representative of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science, will work with members of the government
of South Africa to analyze the transcripts of the testimonies of
the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the grand political
experiment of our time. President Mandela, instead of seeking to
purge the country of people who embraced apartheid (literally apartness
of the races), sought to heal the wounds of the people through setting
up a political process that encouraged confession of political crimes
and the granting of amnesty in return for speaking the truth. As
hundreds of people in South Africa have testified in TRC hearings,
tales of horrible wrongdoings and responses of moving forgiveness
have come forth. Chapman hopes to discover some of the qualities
of the human spirit that can promote forgiveness in the face of
grief, loss, and horror through analyzing transcripts of testimonies.
Forgiveness, & Reconciliation in Rwanda"
Ervin Staub, Ph.D., in the Department of Psychology at the
University of Massachusetts- Amherst, is part of the Trauma, Research,
Education, and Training Institute. He and a team of researchers
seek to investigate whether-and if so, how-forgiveness can possibly
occur in Rwanda. He will constitute groups of Hutus, of Tutsis,
and of mixtures of the tribes. People who did not directly participate
in the massacres are included so that victims and families of those
killed can more easily come to forgive members of the other tribe.
& the Reduction of Intergroup Conflict"
Ed Cairns, Ph.D., at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland,
in the Centre for the Study of Conflict, seeks to provide the first
extensive theoretical and empirical study of intergroup forgiveness
within Northern Ireland. One of this study's ideas is that much
of our social behavior is determined by our social group. Thus we
are more likely to forgive acts of violence committed by one of
our own group than by someone with whom we did not associate. Utilizing
eight studies, Cairns proposes to show that under appropriate conditions
the differences between any two groups will not be perceived, and
this will bring about a reconciliation.
"Is There a Role
for Forgiveness & Spirituality in Coping with Combat Trauma?"
Ming Tsuang, M.D., Ph.D., at the Harvard Institute for Psychiatric
Epidemiology and Genetics, proposes to describe an empirical investigation
of the role of forgiveness in coping with trauma associated with
military service in Vietnam. The overall objective is to use unique
methodology to draw general conclusions regarding the actual and
potential roles of forgiveness for coping with combat and other
traumatic, life-threatening experiences. This study will utilize
the VET Registry to identify and interview 170 pairs of identical
twins, one of which will have had combat exposure while the other
twin will not have served in Vietnam.
"Assessment of Forgiveness:
Psychometric, Interpersonal, & Psychophysiological Correlates"
Warren Jones, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University
of Tennessee, will examine people who have been hurt or offended
and whether they have a physiological reaction after they forgive
that person. He will also see what effects a supportive network
would have in helping to heal the trauma. Participants will be given
an anger recall interview during which their blood pressure, heart
rate, facial EMG and skin conductance will be monitored and recorded.
These Results will help to prove that forgiveness correlates with
emotions and personality.
Forgiveness Enhance Brain Activation Associated with Empathy in
Victims of Assault?"
Peter Woodruff, MRCP, professor at the University of Sheffield,
England, will examine patients with post-traumatic stress disorder
after a criminal assault. He will use state-of-the-art mental imaging
techniques to see if parts of the brain are activated when people
forgive the offender.
A Campaign for Forgiveness Research
funded 46 innovative research projects on the effects of forgiveness.
Now you can read about their discoveries.