The relationship between trait forgiveness and marital adjustment in heterosexual individuals
A substantial body of research has focused on forgiveness as a way of dealing with significant betrayal within close relationships. In much of this prior research, forgiveness has been treated as a state variable. State forgiveness research has focused on acts of forgiveness, but not on a person's disposition to forgive. Recently, some research has considered forgiveness as a trait. In this recent research, the interest is in the participants' willingness or disposition to forgive. In conjunction with this research, new instruments have been developed to measure the variable of trait forgiveness. The current research was concerned with how a spouse's disposition to forgive interpersonal transgressions over time and across many situations affects marital adjustment. The current research was a quantitative study utilizing survey instruments. The study used correlational and causal-comparative designs to investigate the nature of the relationship between trait forgiveness and marital adjustment. An instrument measuring trait forgiveness was administered to married individuals. The dependent variable was a measure of marital adjustment. The research hypothesis was that a higher level of trait forgiveness for individuals will predict a higher level of individual marital adjustment. This hypothesis was supported by the data. This result suggests that further research investigating whether trait forgiveness can be increased by interventions would be valuable. The current study also examined the influence of various demographic factors on the relationship between trait forgiveness and marital adjustment. Age was found to be a significant covariate of trait forgiveness, with older individuals tending to have higher levels of marital adjustment. Ethnicity also related with trait forgiveness, but sample demographics limited the findings and instead suggest a need to examine this relationship in future research.