Forgiveness of Others and Self‐Forgiveness: The Predictive Role of Cognitive Distortions, Empathy, and Rumination

1Ankara University, Turkey.
2Ankara University, Turkey.
DOI: 10.14689/ejer.2017.68.6


Purpose: People encounter many hurtful experiences in daily life. Hurtful experiences lead to negative emotions such as anger, revenge, shame, and guilt, and people need to overcome these experiences effectively in order to protect their mental health. Unforgiveness proves to be one of the most important sources of stress in an individual’s life, and forgiveness, on the other hand, is acknowledged as an effective coping mechanism that can be utilised in coping with this stressful mood. The purpose of this study was to investigate the predictive role of interpersonal cognitive distortions, empathy, and rumination on levels of self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others.

Research Methods: The study was carried out with 527 university students. The Heartland Forgiveness Scale, Interpersonal Reactivity Index, short form of Rumination Scale, Interpersonal Cognitive Distortions Scale, and Personal Information Form were used in order to collect data for the study. Stepwise Multiple Regression Analysis was used to analyze the data.

Findings: The results showed that where forgiveness of others was taken as a dependent variable in the regression model, cognitive distortions for interpersonal rejection, perspective taking, and empathic concern were significant predictors of forgiveness of others. Furthermore, in the model where self-forgiveness was chosen as a dependent variable, rumination and personal distress were found to be significant predictors of self-forgiveness.

Implications for Research and Practice: Based on the results, during the forgiveness-based counseling interventions or psychoeducational programs, it can be more effective that practitioners consider related features or create modules based on these psychological constructs.

Keywords: Forgiveness process, interpersonal rejection, Perspective taking, Ruminative thinking.