Qualitative analysis of a Slovakian sample of the lay population’s understanding of forgiveness with regard to age differences
Keywords:forgiveness, factors of forgiveness, age differences, qualitative research
Objectives. The main aim of this study was to qualitatively explore the general population’s understanding of forgiveness with regard to its definition, factors, and effects. The special focus of the study was on comparing the views on forgiveness by two generations, young adults, and seniors.
Participants and setting. Semi-structured interviews were done with 20 participants from two age groups: ten young adults aged 21 to 29 years (M = 23.4, SD = 2.79) and ten seniors aged 61 to 68 years (M = 64, SD = 2.47).
Research questions. Research questions were focused on examining how laypersons conceptualize forgiveness; notably, how they view the factors and effects of forgiveness. It was also explored whether there are any specifics and differences in the views on forgiveness between young adults and seniors.
Data analysis. The data obtained from semi-structured interviews were analyzed by Consensual Qualitative Research (Hill et al., 2005).
Results. For most individuals in both generations, the basis of forgiveness was letting go of anger and pain. The most significant factor positively related to forgiveness was an apology and admitting the mistake. The most noteworthy negative factor was the depth of the hurt. Individuals perceive positive consequences of forgiveness, especially on their mental health and strengthening their relationships. It seems that young adults perceive forgiveness more as an interpersonal process, while seniors perceive it more as an internal process of an individual.
Study limitations. The use of qualitative methodology and the sample size limit the generalization of the findings and comparing two samples at the level of statistical significance. Participants may have had various experiences dealing with hurt and forgiveness throughout their lives which could have influenced their views on forgiveness.
Implications. Gaining a deeper understanding of how young adults and seniors understand forgiveness and its effects, what they perceive as helpful or blocking in their forgiving, can help counselors and therapists to improve their interventions aimed at promoting forgiveness.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Lucia Záhorcová, Božena Zelenáková
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