Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Forgiveness--Religious aspects;


Forgiveness has been found important for human social functioning within and across cultures. Empirical findings from the last four decades pointed to the role of forgiveness in improving physical, mental, and spiritual health. As a result, forgiveness practices have been extended into the fields of counseling psychology, education, and peace-making. Other studies suggest that religious commitment increases a person’s likelihood to forgive and that practicing forgiveness mediates the effect of religion on health. Schema Theory was used to interpret religious background or lack of religion as factors shaping specific mental structures. These mental structures could lead to different forgiveness schemata, which reflect in different perceptions, encoding, comprehension, and practice of forgiveness.

The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship among forgiveness, religiosity, and lack of religion. The study compared forgiveness aspects between and within groups: the affect, cognition, and behavior related to forgiveness towards a specific offender, the forgiveness likelihood based on religious background, and the effects of intrinsic versus extrinsic belief orientation on forgiveness likelihood in hypothetical situations.

The research design was causal-comparative with cross-sectional survey methodology and included three measures (i.e., Enright’s Forgiveness Inventory, Forgiveness Likelihood Scale, and Religious Orientation Scale) with a number of scales. The survey was distributed to 334 participants (Muslim, N = 116; Christian, N = 106; Atheist, N = 112). The analyses consisted of descriptive statistics, one-way ANOVAs, one-way MANOVA, multiple regressions, and structural equation modelling. Some of the results suggested that Christian participants reported greater commitment to their beliefs, more advances towards completed forgiveness process, more positive feelings, thoughts, and actions towards a specific offender, and greater forgiveness likelihood. All participants, regardless of religion, who possessed intrinsic belief orientation, were more likely to forgive in presented hypothetical situations.

The findings from this study may help better understand the effect of individuals’ forgiveness schema. Also, the findings have practical implications for counseling interventions and education programs. The study advocates for increased sensitivity to religious plurality, including Atheism, in order for successful advances to be made towards improved well-being of diverse populations.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

First Advisor

Suzanne Freedman, Committee Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 144 pages)



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