Forgiving communication as a response to relational transgressions

Vincent Waldron, Douglas Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Researchers and therapists have argued that forgiveness is essential to the process of relationship reconciliation. This project describes five types of forgiving communication reported by 187 adult members of romantic relationships. We labeled these forms of forgiving communication conditional, minimizing, discussion, nonverbal display, and explicit. As expected, forgivers recalled using more conditional and less minimizing types of communication when relational transgressions were severe. In addition, variations in reported forgiving communication were associated with relational outcomes. Partners who reported using conditional forms of communication also indicated that they experienced relationship deterioration after the forgiveness episode. In contrast, reported explicit and nonverbal forgiveness strategies were positively associated with relationship strengthening. The results are interpreted as further evidence that the role of communication behavior should be expanded in conceptual models of forgiveness and relationship reconciliation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-742
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Apology
  • Communication
  • Forgiveness
  • Reconciliation
  • Relationship outcomes
  • Transgressions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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