SELF-FORGIVENESS: A REVIEW 6
The Stepchild of Forgiveness Research
Review of "Self-Forgiveness: The Stepchild of ForgivenessResearch"
This review focuses on the article "Self-forgiveness: TheStepchild of Forgiveness" written by Julie Hall and FrankFincham and published in 2005 in the Journal of Social andClinical Psychology. The first section of this review summarizesthe article and briefly critiques the introduction and literaturereview. A critique of the methodology, results and discussion arethen done, before an evaluation of the entire article is attempted.
In the article, the researchers try to conceptually analyze`self-forgiveness` through the definition and by distinguishing itfrom both interpersonal forgiveness and pseudo-forgiveness. The aimof the researchers is to stimulate effective research on the subjectof forgiveness, in the context of the three types of forgivenessmentioned. Hall and Fincham (2005) contend that while a lot has beenresearched and published on the concept of forgiveness between thevictim and the perpetrator (inter-forgiveness), inadequate data andanalysis exists regarding self-forgiveness or intrapersonalforgiveness. They define self-forgiveness as the emotional expressionof not just love but also respect towards oneself, and the deliberateaction of putting aside negative thoughts emanating from wrongdoing.The article states that self-forgiveness is a process.
Hall and Fincham identify three elements posed by philosophersregarding the restoration of self-respect: self-forgiveness requires,first, an objective wrongdoing negative feelings triggered by thewrongdoing must be overcome, and internal acceptance of oneself hasto be attained. Based on the fact that self-forgiveness involves onlyone person, that is, oneself, the authors classify self-forgivenessas intrapersonal forgiveness (Hall & Fincham, 2005). Through aninformative and highly relevant chart, the researchers dwell furtheron the similarities and differences between interpersonal andintrapersonal forgiveness. Emphasis is placed on the need for aperson to first acknowledge the wrong that one has done and to acceptresponsibility for the wrong, before self-forgiveness, as a processcan commence. Hall and Fincham (2005) then conclude by suggestingthat a solid, empirically-validated theoretical model, aself-forgiveness assessment tool be adopted in creating moreliterature about the concept of self-forgiveness. The model that theysuggest includes various elements with emotional, social-cognitive,and offense-related determinants of self-forgiveness (Hall &Fincham, 2005). The proposed model of self-forgiveness thusincorporates empathy, guilt, shame, severity, and transgression,perceived forgiveness from a victim or higher power, and conciliatorybehavior.
Title and Introduction
The appropriateness of the article title `Self-forgiveness: thestepchild of forgiveness research` is clear. Based on the study aims,there is need for more research on self-forgiveness thus the title,which includes the word `research,` is relevant. `Stepchild` impliesthat forgiveness is not the same as self-forgiveness, there is a hugedifference. The introduction and abstract are also succinct,elaborate, and clear. It has laid out the plan for the entirearticle, justifying the need to shift research effort frominterpersonal to intrapersonal forgiveness, self-forgiveness inparticular. The literature review is detailed and elaborate. Variousrelevant pieces of social science literature touching on, and relatedto the topic at hand are cited. Psychology, and education theoriesand concepts related to interpersonal, intrapersonal,self-forgiveness have been cited, ranging from the 1970s (such asHorsburgh`s 1974 literature, to recent works dated 2003).
Hall and Fincham`s (2005) research makes use of conceptual analysisto explain forgiveness, which they say, is a process. The articlemakes an evaluation of the different components and forms ofself-forgiveness in a table form (figure 1). The definitions andanalyses do not only effectively advance the research study, but theyalso lay out the similarities and differences of self-forgiveness aswell as the offender and victim internal/external resolutionprocesses. The adopted conceptual framework clearly brings out thevarious elements of emotional, social-cognitive, and offense-relateddeterminants of self-forgiveness and how they affectself-forgiveness. Limitations of the model, including lack ofevidence to support causal relationships between the identifiedvariables, are well articulated. However, the fact that the studydoes not make use of a population sample to reach its findingssignificantly weakens the study`s empiricism.
Results and Discussion
Through conceptual analysis, various determinants ofself-forgiveness are determined. Emotional determinants ofself-forgiveness are identified as guilt and shame, which may inhibitself-forgiveness. Social-cognitive determinants such as attributionsare also identified, as well as offense-related determinants, such asconciliatory behavior with either a higher power or secular devicesare elaborately pointed out as positive contributors toself-forgiveness through absolving of guilt. The severity of theoffense is, however, inversely linked to self-forgiveness. A logicalexplanation is given for each of the determinant factors.
Evaluation of Entire Article
The article " Self-Forgiveness: The Stepchild of ForgivenessResearch" lays out the idea of self-forgiveness comprehensivelyand the tenets upon which it builds it assumptions are elaboratelyexplained. The various determinants of self-forgiveness are to agreat extent outlined, from psychological perspectives, as well asempirical values from other literature. Hall and Fincham (2005) notetheir article was the among the few to comprehensively address theissue of self-forgiveness as other vast pieces of previous researchesonly focused on interpersonal forgiveness. The variety, nature, andrelevance of references (44 references), most of which touch onpsychology and philosophy, is good.
The article was lacking in the methodology section regardingempirical data. Lack of use of populations to verify or test thesuggested concept model is a key methodology weakness. It isnecessary for future efforts to make use of sample populations tocheck for validity and reliability of the study findings. Hall andFincham`s (2005) suggested model of self-forgiveness should also beexamined in detail and an empirical, evidence based follow-up to bedone to test if the suggested model can indeed be verified and aself-forgiveness measurement tool developed.
Hall, J.H. & Fincham, F.D. (2005). Self-Forgiveness: TheStepchild of Forgiveness Research. Journal of Social and ClinicalPsychology, 24 (5), 621-637.