Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Joseph C. LaVoie

Second Advisor

Bridgette O. Ryalls

Third Advisor

Mary Ann Lamanna


The purpose of the present study was to investigate interpersonal forgiveness in the context of adolescent friendships. The following factors were examined in relation to an adolescent’s forgiveness of a transgressing friend: a) religiosity, b) commitment, c) relationship closeness, d) empathy, e) apologies, and f) transgression severity. A total of 161 students (66 males, 95 females) from grades 7,9, and 11 (12- to 18-years of age) participated. Transgression severity was found to have the most influence on forgiveness, accounting for 70% of the variance. Adolescents were more forgiving after low-severity transgressions than high-severity transgressions. The presence of apology had a significant influence on forgiveness in high-severity transgressions only. After being severely hurt by a friend, adolescents were more forgiving when an apology was given than when no apology was given by the friend. Relationship quality factors were found to affect forgiveness. Commitment in the friendship was a significant predictor of forgiveness regardless of transgression severity. The more committed the adolescents were to their friend, the more forgiving they were after a transgression. Relationship closeness was a significant predictor of forgiveness in low-severity transgressions, but not in the expected direction. This result

was most likely due to the low internal consistency in the measure used to assess relationship closeness. Individual difference factors were found to have a minimal role in adolescents’ forgiveness. Adolescents’ level of religiosity predicted forgiveness, but only in lowseverity transgressions. Empathy was not a significant predictor, and no sex or age differences were found.

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