The effects of brief prayer on the experience of forgiveness: An American and Indian comparison

Loren Toussaint, Shanmukh Kamble, Justin C. Marschall, Deepti B. Duggi
Published Online:
16 Jan 2015
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 51 Issue 4

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The present study offers a cross‐cultural examination of the effect of prayer on forgiveness. American (n = 51) and Indian (n = 100) participants either prayed for their romantic partner (prayer condition) or described their romantic partner's physical attributes (control condition). Prayers were self‐guided and lasted 3 minutes. Pre‐test and post‐test measures of retaliation were completed. Results showed that participants in the prayer group showed statistically significant decreases in retaliation motives from pre‐test to post‐test and the magnitude of this change was not different across cultures. Control groups in both cultures showed no change. Because of the religious diversity present in the Indian sample, the robustness of the effect of prayer on forgiveness was tested across Christian, Hindu and Muslim Indians. Religious affiliation did not moderate the effect of prayer on forgiveness in this sample. Results suggest that a brief prayer is capable of producing real change in forgiveness and this change is consistent across American and Indian cultures and across three different religious groups in India. Brief prayer for others that enhances forgiveness may be useful for individuals in close relationships, in certain counselling settings and for people in many different walks of life.

© 2015 International Union of Psychological Science