What are you more likely to choose- revenge or forgiveness, if you have more power than the other person?
I’ve always thought, that forgiving is what the stronger ones do. It takes a lot of self-confidence, maturity, feeling secure personally and confidence in your self-efficacy. Revenge is more like what you would do in defense, when you’re affected, when you feel threatened and just want to strike back, to show that you have that power. Forgiveness is what you do when you know, that you have that power, that you’re strong enough and don’t feel the need to prove it to someone anymore. That’s a big part of the growing-up process to me.
Recently a study* examined a remotely similar idea. The authors suggested that forgiveness is more likely when the person has more power* in a relationship and is strongly committed to the partner; that power increase forgiveness and not vice versa; that rumination is an important negative factor for forgiveness.
To make it short – the study confirmed these suggestions. The researchers measured perceived power, level of commitment, severeness of former offend, willingness to forgive, tendency for rumination, correlation and regression were calculated. If you want details or can’t access the pdf – ask 😉
As usual there’s not really a point in this post, I just thought that this study is worth mentioning.
*Karremans, J. C. & Smith, P. K. (2010). Having the Power to Forgive: When the Experience of Power Increases Interpersonal Forgiveness. In Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 36(8), 1010-1023
*the authors define power as “experience of power” in the context of relationships – “people who have many experiences in which they have the capacity to control others across a variety of relationships should develop a general sense of power”.