Feeling Bad and Doing Good: Forgivability through the Lens of Uninvolved Third Parties

Shoko Watanabe, Sean M. Laurent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Previous forgiveness research has mostly focused on victims forgiveness of transgressors, and offenders post-transgression efforts intended to promote victim forgiveness have been collectively branded as apology. However, decisions concerning forgiveness frequently occur outside of dyadic contexts, and the unique roles of repentance and atonement in determining forgivability of offenders, despite their preeminence in theology and law, have received little empirical attention. Across five experiments (N = 938), we show that repentance and atonement independently influence third-party perception of forgivability for a variety of harms, even in disinterested contexts. Our findings provide a systematic examination of decisions about forgivability disentangled from direct personal involvement, demonstrating that components of apology known to facilitate forgiveness in victims also increase perceived forgivability from unharmed observers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology


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