Women know more forgiving - The keys of forgiveness

March 2011

A study by the University of the Basque Country (UPV / EHU) has studied in Spain for the first time the emotional changes that arise between the sexes and generations at the time of forgiving. The analysis shows that parents forgive more easily than their children. However, women know more forgiving than men.

"A crucial variable in the ability to forgive is empathy, and women are more empathic ability than men", says Carmen Maganto, coauthor of the study and professor in the School of Psychology at the UPV.

The results, which were measured with the scale of assessment of ability to forgive (CAPER) and the Scale of Forgiveness and facilitating factors (ESPER), differ depending on age and sex on the reasons that facilitate forgiveness.

Forgiveness: what is and what is behind it?

The children feel that "things are forgiven with the passage of time", but the reasons parents refer to as "repentance and forgiveness of the other party" and "justice through the law".

According to the authors of this study, most parents have forgiven him throughout his life, have increased their ability to forgive "in all dimensions". The definition of forgiveness, parents and children have similar conceptions. Lack of anger, reconciliation, understanding and empathy are the terms that best identify forgiveness for both groups.

However, men and women show greater differences. For both "lack of bitterness" is what best defines forgiveness. But men give greater importance to this feature.

The key is not to keep resentment

The study, which was done with the collaboration of 140 participants (parents and children aged between 45 and 60, and 17 and 25, respectively), highlights two key conditions to be given forgiveness: the offender must "show remorse" and offended "do not keep grudge".

For experts, the family is a key place in the transmission of ethical values. "This result is particularly interesting at a time when the family is in crisis and not expected of her basic education in values. This education is largely transferred to the school", the researchers emphasize.

The research opens up "many new issues" for the two researchers, who consider it "necessary to investigate the role of forgiveness in the psychological treatments, especially victims of sexual abuse, physical and psychological abuse or marital infidelity, among other situations".

Source: Maganto, Carmen, Garaigordobil, Maite. “Evaluación del perdón: Diferencias generacionales y diferencias de sexo”. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología 42 (3): 391-403, September 2010.