Cross‐cultural similarities and differences in motives to forgive: A comparison between and within cultures

Sylvia Huwaë, Juliette Schaafsma
Published Online:
08 Sep 2017
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Recently, researchers have begun to explore people's motives to forgive those who have offended them. Using a recall method, we examined whether such motives (relationship‐, offender‐ or self‐focused) differ between and within cultures that are more collectivistic (Moluccan Islands in Indonesia) or more individualistic (the Netherlands) and whether this depends on people's relationship with the offender. More specifically, we examined the idea that other‐focused motives should be more important in cultures that are more collectivistic and that self‐focused motives should prevail in more individualistic cultures. We found that Moluccan participants indeed endorsed relationship‐ and offender‐focused motives more than Dutch participants. Moluccan and Dutch participants did not, however, differ in the extent to which they endorsed self‐focused motives. Furthermore, Dutch participants were more likely to endorse relationship motives (especially in close relations) than self‐focused motives. For Moluccan participants, relationship‐, offender‐ and self‐focused motives were equally important and also did not depend on how close they were with the offender. Differences between the samples could not be explained by the extent to which people defined themselves as more independent or interdependent. The implications of these findings for future research on forgiveness motives are discussed.

© 2017 International Union of Psychological Science