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Altruism and HealthPerspectives from Empirical Research$
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Stephen G. Post

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.001.0001

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Forgiveness and Health: A Review and Theoretical Exploration of Emotion Pathways

Forgiveness and Health: A Review and Theoretical Exploration of Emotion Pathways

Chapter:
(p.259) 14 Forgiveness and Health: A Review and Theoretical Exploration of Emotion Pathways
Source:
Altruism and Health
Author(s):

Charlotte V. O. Witvliet

Michael E. McCullough

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.003.0017

This chapter addresses the possible health connections of forgiveness, which is defined as an unusual expression of altruistic love that can only occur after a person has first suffered harm from an offender. Forgiveness is an act of gift giving to the undeserving offender that attempts to overcome injustice with goodness and potentially to edge out negative feelings associated with the transgression with prosocial emotions like empathy, compassion, and love. Based on emotion theory, the chapter identifies forgiveness as a positively valent low-arousal emotion (like peace and calm) and the opposite, ‘unforgiveness’, as a negatively valent high-arousal emotion (like fear and anger). Forgiveness as an antidote to negative responses to transgression and research on the negative health effects of hostility, stress, rumination, and suppression, along with ways in which forgiveness can counter these effects, is presented.

Keywords:   health outcomes, forgiving, altruism, altruistic love, transgression, forgiveness

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