Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Everett Worthington


Research on forgiveness has been expanding rapidly in the last decade with a subset of studies looking at how religious people forgive. A discrepancy persists between Christians’ level of valuing forgiveness and forgiveness of actual transgressions. Several methodological issues and offense-specific variables have been presented as explanations. This present thesis examines the role of the congregation as a group identity, and applies it to a theory of relational spirituality, as a measure of the relationship between a victim and the Sacred. No existing research has polled congregants about offense-specific forgiveness of church peers. I collected data from members of Christian congregations throughout the United States (Study 1, N = 63) and college students belonging to Christian congregations (Study 2, N = 387) concerning group identity and within group forgiveness. In the present studies, group identification with a congregation predicted lower unforgiving and higher forgiving motivations towards an in-group offender.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011