Sample Psychology Research Paper

Topics: Blood pressure, Psychology, Hypertension Pages: 11 (2193 words) Published: October 5, 2013

Forgiveness and its Influence on Physiological and Mental Health




The relationship of forgiveness and health was assessed using 150 middle-aged adults. Forgiveness will influence the physiological health of many people. The ability to let go of emotions and grudges will positively affect the status of both mental and physical wellbeing. The ability to let go of a grudge and detach oneself from emotion will be beneficial to one’s mental and physical condition and health in the long run. Forgiveness was evaluated using a Likert scale. Mental health measures were also taken. These measures covered depression, anxiety, and perceived stress. Physical health was also accounted for. These measures focused on blood pressure and heart rate. Forgiveness was self-reported in addition to perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. Higher levels of forgiveness were associated with lower levels of anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. Blood pressure and heart rate was also low in people who scored high on the forgiveness scale.

Keywords: Forgiveness, depression, anxiety, stress, blood pressure, heart rate



Forgiveness is often traced back to religion and spirituality, although differing across various cultures. Christianity had deemed interpersonal forgiveness as the centerpiece of the religion. Judaism and Islam consider interpersonal forgiveness a virtue, though the concept is less salient than with Christianity. Hinduism and Buddhism see interpersonal forgiveness as important, but do not view it as a pillar of their religion (Worthington, 1999). The definition of forgiveness is vague, but is usually defined as a cognitive, emotional, and behavioral response to interpersonal conflict. It has been linked to both mental and physical indices of health. It is expressed as the reciprocal to hostility, anger, anxiety, and depression (Lawler, Younger, Piferi, Jobe, Edmondson, & Jones, 2005). Although there is some debate over the definition of forgiveness, it is unanimous that forgiveness is not pardoning, excusing, condoning, denying, forgetting, or reconciliation (Harris, Luskin, Norman, Standard, Bruning, Evans, & Thoresen, 2006). In order to successfully forgive, one must feel the emotion while letting go of the anger. Forgiveness may not be a static personality characteristic but a dynamic tendency that may follow different developmental trajectories (McFarland, Smith, Toussaint, & Thomas, 2012).

Forgiveness is a complicated process, which can potentially increase the quality and quantity of one’s life. Forgiveness allows a person to let go of angry feelings toward people, which can benefit a person’s mental and physiological health. Dr. Ornish describes forgiveness as a healthy alternative to anger (Lewis & Adler, 2004). There are many variables that play a role in forgiveness and its effect on health. Spirituality, social skills, negative emotions, and perceived stress all have a huge effect on health, both mental and physical (Lawler, Younger, Piferi, Jobe, Edmondson, & Jones, 2005).

Forgiveness is known to reduce stress caused by different emotions such as anger,



bitterness, hostility, hatred, resentment, and the fear of being hurt again. The health effects of forgiveness are clear and evident. It reduces the amount of chronic blaming, hostility, and anger. It also slows down the sympathetic nervous system, which prevents hyper arousal and allostatic load. It increases the optimism and positive self-evaluative thoughts as well as self-efficacy. The social and emotional support is also increased tenfold through the use of forgiveness (McFarland, Smith, Toussaint, & Thomas, 2012). Overall forgiveness has many emotional benefits, making life and overall happier,...

References: Allemand, M., Steiner, M., & Hill, P. L. (2013). Effects of a forgiveness intervention for older
Enright, R. D. (1999). 'Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships ': Correction to
McCullough et al
Friedberg, J. P., Suchday, S., & Srinivas, V. S. (2009). Relationship between forgiveness and
psychological indices in cardiac patients
E. (2006). Effects of a group forgiveness intervention on forgiveness, perceived stress,
and trait-anger
(2005). The unique effects of forgiveness on health: An exploration of pathways. Journal
Lawler-Row, K., & Reed, K. A. (2008). Forgiveness and health in women. In W. Malcolm, N.
Lewis, J., & Adler, J. (2004). Forgive and let live. Newsweek, 144(13), 52-52.
McFarland, M. J., Smith, C. A., Toussaint, L., & Thomas, P. A. (2012). Forgiveness of others
and health: Do race and neighborhood matter? The Journals of Gerontology: Series B:
(2008). Retributive justice, restorative justice, and forgiveness: An experimental
psychophysiology analysis
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