Assessing Forgiveness: Development of a Brief, Broadly Applicable Self-report Measure
Law, Mary Kate
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Forgiveness is a construct that has captured the interest of researchers and practitioners across various fields, from philosophy to biology; however, defining and measuring forgiveness has been a challenge because of its complex nature. By drawing on relationships discovered in past studies, reviewing definitions across disciplines, and noting weaknesses in current forgiveness measures, the task of developing a broadly applicable forgiveness measure with strong theoretical and psychometric roots resulted in the creation of the General Measure of Forgiveness (GMF). The GMF is a brief, Likert response questionnaire that is appropriate for both relationship and non-relationship transgressions; heretofore, there has not been an established measure for non-relationship trangressions. This study was an initial investigation into the psychometric properties of the GMF. In an online design, college participants (n=343) were administered the GMF along with an established interpersonal measure of forgiveness, the Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EFI: Enright & Rique, 2004), and other measures of theoretically related and unrelated constructs. For the forgiveness measures, participants completed the GMF and EFI (order counterbalanced) in response to the same self-generated relationship transgression, then completed the GMF in response to a self-generated non-relationship transgression. Results supported the internal consistency of the GMF (Cronbachâ s alphas of .93 for both relationship and non-relationship forgiveness) and an exploratory factor analysis identified a primary factor accounting for about 30% of the total item variance. Convergent and discriminant validity analyses resulted in largely predicted relationships (e.g., r = .81 for GMFrelationship and EFI; r = .78 for GMFnon-relationship and a single-item assessment of forgiveness; r = -.26 for GMFrelationship and anger and aggression). These results are encouraging as use of the GMF could open new areas of research in non-relationship forgiveness and enhance research and application of relationship forgiveness. Specifically, the GMF holds promise for improving research by providing a brief, non-proprietary, and broadly applicable measure of forgiveness. Broadly, the study suggests that a general measure of forgiveness is feasible.
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