Tusculum College’s Ken Brewer, assistant professor of psychology, recently worked with East Tennessee State University’s Dr. Jon Webb, Jameson Hirsch and Preston Visser on an article involving religiosity and forgiveness.
The article, “Forgiveness and Health: Assessing the Mediating Effect of Health Behavior, Social Support, and Interpersonal Functioning” which appeared in a recent issue of “The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied” reports on a study of 363 undergraduate students from rural Appalachia.
Early on in the article the authors define forgiveness with affective, behavioral and cognitive components, as forgiveness minimally involves the reduction of negative responses to offense, yet may also include an increase in positive responses.
The cross-sectional study discusses self-forgiveness, forgiveness of others but not feeling forgiven by God in comparison to health symptoms and psychological distress. Results of the study showed that having a feeling of self-forgiveness, or lack thereof affected the group’s health much more than feeling forgiven by others.
“Our study focuses on forgiveness, its multiple dimensions (forgiveness of others, forgiveness of self and feeling forgiven by God), and its impact on health,” said Brewer. “Rich with complexity, our findings corroborate with previous research as to the importance of forgiving others as a benefit to health and helps to support Everett Worthington’s model on forgiveness.
“In addition our findings emphasize the value of forgiveness of self as a health benefit. As a counselor I am especially interested in our study’s clinical application by encouraging clients to focus on forgiveness of self as well as forgiveness of others to assist treatment success.”
Co-authored by Samantha Hurst ’16 and Ryan Barker ’15