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Positive Psychology in Practice: Promoting Human Flourishing in Work, Health, Education, and Everyday Life, 2nd Edition by Stephen Joseph

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Chapter 38Facilitating Forgiveness Using Group and Community Interventions

FRANK D. FINCHAM

Feeling hurt, let down, betrayed, disappointed, or wronged by another human being is a universal experience. In the face of such injury, negative feelings (e.g., anger, resentment, disappointment) are common. Motivation to avoid the source of the harm, or even a desire to retaliate or seek revenge, is also typical. Indeed, revenge occurs across species (Aureli, Cozzolino, Cordischi, & Scucchi, 1992), and its corrosive effects are undeniable. Retaliatory impulses may motivate the victim to reciprocate the transgression in kind, but reciprocated harm is usually perceived to be greater than the original offense by the transgressor, who, in turn, may retaliate to even the score. Given such escalating cycles of vengeance, it is not surprising that revenge is implicated in many of our most ignominious acts as a species, including homicide, suicide, terrorism, and genocide (McCullough, Kurzban, & Tabak, 2010).

Limited data exist on how people manage to inhibit the tendency to respond negatively to a partner's bad behavior and respond constructively instead, a process called accommodation. Some initial data suggest that such responses are related to relationship commitment, greater interdependence between persons, and having plentiful time, rather than a limited time, to respond (e.g., Yovetich & Rusbult, 1994). Although important, such findings provide only a partial understanding of how relationships ...

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