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The Mediating Role of Forgiveness in Mental Health and Adjustment The Mediating Role of Forgiveness in Mental Health and Adjustment Kimberly M. Jorgensen,

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Presentation on theme: "The Mediating Role of Forgiveness in Mental Health and Adjustment The Mediating Role of Forgiveness in Mental Health and Adjustment Kimberly M. Jorgensen,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Mediating Role of Forgiveness in Mental Health and Adjustment The Mediating Role of Forgiveness in Mental Health and Adjustment Kimberly M. Jorgensen, B.A., Loren L. Toussaint 1, Ph.D., Ashley A. Salvatore, B.S. University of Northern Iowa, Luther College 1 Purpose Research has shown that conflict in the home has detrimental effects on adolescent development. Conflict can be defined in two ways. First, conflict may occur between parents. Second, conflict may occur between child and parent(s). In either case, conflict has been shown to have detrimental associations with mental health and adjustment. Forgiveness is an inter-relational variable that is defined as an “act of deliberately giving up resentment toward an offender while fostering the undeserved qualities of beneficence and compassion toward that offender” (Freedman & Enright, 1996, p. 983). Forgiveness has been shown to be negatively associated with anger, hostility, and aggressive behavior (Thompson, et al., 2005; Berry, et al., 2005). Forgiveness has also been shown to be associated with improved mental health and adjustment (Freedman & Knupp, 2003; McIntyre, 2004). The present study was designed to investigate the associations between conflict, forgiveness, and mental health. Two types of conflict (parent-parent & parent-child) and dispositional forgiveness were investigated. Figure 1 depicts the expected pattern of associations between conflict with mental health and the mediational effect of forgiveness.Hypotheses We predicted that inter-parental conflict would be associated with decreased mental health. We also predicted that parent-child conflict would also be associated with decreased mental health. Finally, we predicted that forgiveness would be associated with improved mental health, and that forgiveness would mediate the associations between both types of conflict and mental health. Method Participants  86 undergraduate students (23 male, 63 female)  Recruited from general psychology and in dormitories  Mean age was 19.6 years  85% came from intact families, 15% had divorced parents Measures  Conflict Quality of Relationships Inventory (Pierce, Sarason, & Sarason, 1991) Conflict Scale (  mother =.91,  father =.90) Post-Divorce Parental Conflict Scale (Sonnenblick & Schwarz, 1992) Verbal (  =.70) Indirect (  =.70)  Mental Health Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (  =.91) (Rosenberg, 1965) Satisfaction with Life Scale (  =.89) (Diener, Emmons, Larsen & Griffin, 1985) Hopkins Symptom Checklist (Derogatis et al., 1974) Depression (  =.90)  Forgiveness Heartland Forgiveness Scale (  =.90) (Thompson et al., 2005) Oneself (  =.82) Others (  =.78) Situations (  =.84) American Psychological Association Annual Meeting August, 2006 References Berry, J.W.,Worthington, E.L., O’Connor, L.E., Parrott, L., & Wade, N.G. (2005). Forgivingness, vengeful rumination, and affective traits. Journal of Personality, 73, Freedman, S. & Enright, R. D. (1996). Forgiveness as an intervention goal with incest survivors. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, Freedman, S. & Knupp, A. (2003). The impact of forgiveness on adolescent adjustment to parental divorce. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 39, McIntyre, S. (2004). Forgiveness and its effect on the emotional health of the late adolescent. Unpublished dissertation. Thompson, L.Y., Snyder, C.R., Hoffman, L., Michael, S.T., Rasmussen, H.N., Billings, L.S., Heinze, L., Neufeld, J.E., Shorey, H.S., Roberts, J.C., & Roberts, D.E. (2005). Dispositional forgiveness of self, others, and situations. Journal of Personality, 73, Results Bivariate analyses revealed that both inter-parental conflict and parent-child conflict were related to poorer mental health (see Table 1, green highlights). Correlates of lower self-esteem were: past father initiated verbal conflict between parents, and mother- and father-child conflict. Correlates of lower life-satisfaction were: past and present mother initiated verbal conflict between parents, past father initiated verbal conflict between parents, and mother- and father-child conflict. All types of inter-parental and parent-child conflict were correlated with higher depression. Forgiveness was associated with esteem, satisfaction, and depression (see Table 1, blue highlights). Inter-parental verbal conflict that originated with the father (past and present) and parent-child (mother and father) conflict were associated with forgiveness (see Table 1, orange highlights). Where appropriate, multiple regression analyses were used to determine if forgiveness acted as a mediator of the association between conflict and mental health. Forgiveness mediated associations between conflict and mental health. However, consistent mediational effects were restricted to self-esteem and depression outcomes and conflict regarding father but not mother (see Table 2).Conclusions This study allows for a simultaneous investigation of both inter-parental and parent-child conflict and their associations with mental health. Further, this study examines the influence of forgiveness in mediating the connection between conflict and mental health. Consistent with prior work, our findings show that conflict between parents or between parents and children is associated with poorer mental health. Forgiveness appears to mediate the association between conflict and mental health but only conflict that originates with the father, regardless of whether the conflict is between the father and child or between father and mother. It is not clear why the mitigating effects of forgiveness seem to be reserved for conflict that is associated with fathers but not mothers. Future work should replicate these findings and examine what appears to be a difference between conflict originating with fathers versus mothers and the mediating effects of forgiveness. Inter-Parental Conflict Parent-Child Conflict Forgiveness Mental Health Figure 1. Conceptual Model of Types of Forgiveness and Mental and Physical Health


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