Baylor Professor Receives Grant to Start New Area of Research in Forgiveness

April 22, 2010

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A Baylor University researcher has received a $72,000 grant from the John E. Fetzer Institute to start a new research area at Baylor into the study of forgiveness.

Dr. Jo-Ann Tsang, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor, will extend her current forgiveness research into a new area by utilizing alternative measurement tools. Tsang will test new populations and investigate multiple types of relationship variables that relate to forgiveness such as how much empathy participants have for the person they are forgiving.

"Forgiveness is something that helps us live together, and the better we understand it, the better we can live together as a society," Tsang said. "Most forgiveness studies have focused on the college-aged population, but with some of these studies, we will be looking to survey a much broader population with significant life experiences."

The research will study three main areas. The first area of research is dedicated to the behavioral study of forgiveness of others in the laboratory. The program will examine different variables that inhibit or facilitate the forgiveness of others in reaction to a standardized laboratory-induced offense. Baylor researchers also will measure the relational behaviors that flow from forgiveness, like prosocial behavior and religiousness.

The second area is to establish a program of research on self-forgiveness in clinical populations. Tsang and her team will study substance abusers and war veterans and examine their self-forgiveness regarding real-life transgressions. Tsang said researchers will specifically focus on the relationship between self-forgiveness and well-being and other relationship variables such as are participants more apt to forgive a loved one than a good friend or vice versa.

The third area of study will be to create and validate implicit measures of self/other-forgiveness. This methodology will complement the above research aims, providing a more covert measure of forgiveness.

The multiple study research projects should take about three years to complete.

Media contact: Frank Raczkiewicz, Assistant Vice President of Media Communications, 254-710-1964.

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