Article

Moving on or deciding to let go? A pathway exploring the relationship between emotional and decisional forgiveness and intentional forgetting

Citation

Noreen S & MacLeod MD (2020) Moving on or deciding to let go? A pathway exploring the relationship between emotional and decisional forgiveness and intentional forgetting. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000948

Abstract
We report 3 empirical studies that represent the first systematic attempt to explore the relationship between emotional and decisional forgiveness and intentional forgetting. On this basis, we propose a model that provides a credible explanation for the relationship between forgiveness and forgetting. Specifically, we propose that engaging in emotional forgiveness promotes the psychological distancing of an offense, such that victims construe the offense at a higher and more abstract level. This high-level construal, in turn, promotes larger intentional forgetting effects, which, in turn, promote increased emotional forgiveness. Our studies found that participants in an emotional forgiveness manipulation reported increased psychological distance and recalled more high-level construals than did participants in either a decisional or no-forgiveness manipulation (Study 1). Using the list-method directed forgetting paradigm, we found that participants in an emotional forgiveness manipulation showed larger forgetting effects for both offense-relevant and -irrelevant information using both hypothetical (Study 2) and real-life (Study 3) moral transgressions compared with participants in either decisional or no-forgiveness manipulations. The potential implications of these findings for coping with unpleasant episodes in our lives are considered.

Keywords
Construal level; Directed forgetting; Executive control; Forgiveness; Psychological distance

Notes
Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Journal
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

StatusIn Press
Publication date online30/09/2020
Date accepted by journal30/06/2020
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/31818
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association (APA)
ISSN0278-7393
eISSN0278-7393