Forgiveness: How it Manifests in our Physical Health, Psychological Well-being and Longevity

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Forgiveness is a character strength and process that, when practiced, is associated with improved psychological well-being, physical health outcomes, and longevity. Forgiveness can serve as a protective factor that buffers against poor health and psychological consequences. Common misconceptions about forgiveness can serve as barriers to the desire to cultivate this protective strength, as forgiveness is often conflated with permissiveness, and perceived as permission for a transgressor to engage in hurtful conduct. The benefits of forgiveness, however, are most significant for the individual who has been transgressed, rather than the transgressor. Failing to forgive, or unforgiveness, is the practice of engaging in ruminative thoughts of anger, vengeance, hate, and resentment that have unproductive outcomes for the ruminator, such as increased anxiety, depression, elevated blood pressure, vascular resistance, decreased immune response, and worse outcomes in coronary artery disease. Practicing forgiveness enables the transgressed individual to reduce their engagement in rumination thus reducing their experience of anger, resentment, and hate. Forgiveness, then, is a pathway to psychological well-being and health outcomes.


Forgiveness, psychological well-being, longevity, physical health, choice


Health/Wellness, Well-being/Flourishing


Literature Review



Date Posted: 29 January 2018