Study shows that forgiveness can be taught

October 07, 2003

By using certain forgiving methods, people can be taught how to forgive. Four projects involving actual cases of unresolved hurt were tested to measure their effectiveness in forgiving. The studies found that forgiveness increases mental and physical health and vitality. In study one, the largest study to date measuring the effects of forgiving, people experienced decreases in hurt feelings, stress, and physical symptoms of stress and increased willingness to forgive in the future.

The findings will be presented at the Conference on Forgiveness along with studies from over 40 of the top scientists in the world who study forgiveness. The conference is in Atlanta October 24-25. To register, log on to the Press Room at Forgiving.org.

ABSTRACT:
The Stanford Forgiveness Projects are a series of research projects that investigate the effectiveness of a specific forgiveness methodology. The initial project was a dissertation study and subsequent projects have looked at forgiveness in relationship to interpersonal hurt in a variety of situations. In each study people who had an unresolved hurt were taught to forgive in a group format through lecture, guided imagery, cognitive disputation and discussion. This presentation will briefly review some of the studies to show the efficacy of this particular forgiveness methodology.

Study One: Stanford Forgiveness Project: 259 community dwelling adults in the SF Bay Area, average age 41. Final assessment is 4 and one half months after the six week 90 minute session forgiveness training ended. Largest study to date on the training and measurement of the effects of interpersonal forgiveness. Recruitment was for any unresolved interpersonal hurt that did not include a current experience of physical or sexual violence. 70% decrease in feelings of hurt: 13% reduction in long- term experience of anger: 27% reduction in physical symptoms of stress (back ache, dizziness, sleeplessness, headache, stomach upset, etc.) 15% decrease in emotional experience of stress: 34% increase in forgiveness for person that hurt them: 105% more willing to forgive in other hypothetical situations.

Luskin, Fred: Stanford Forgiveness Projects - Research Applications (Studies 1-3 presented at American Psychological Association conference and Study 4 is still in progress)

Frederic Luskin, Ph.D. is a senior fellow at the Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation and an Associate Professor at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. He serves as the Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Projects and the Stanford Northern Ireland HOPE Projects which are an ongoing series of research projects validating his forgiveness methodology. He is the author of Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness (Harper Collins 2002). His web address is: www.learningtoforgive.com
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John Templeton Foundation

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