Forgiving you is hard, but forgetting seems easy: can forgiveness facilitate forgetting?

Saima Noreen, Raynett Bierman, Malcolm David MacLeod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Forgiveness is considered to play a key role in the maintenance of social relationships, the avoidance of unnecessary conflict, and the ability to move forward with one’s life. But why is it that some people find it easier to forgive and forget than others? In the current study, we explored the supposed relationship between forgiveness and forgetting. In an initial session, 30 participants imagined that they were the victim in a series of hypothetical incidents and indicated whether or not they would forgive the transgressor. Following a standard think/no-think procedure, in which participants were trained to think or not to think about some of these incidents, more forgetting was observed for incidents that had been forgiven following no-think instructions compared with either think or baseline instructions. In contrast, no such forgetting effects emerged for incidents that had not previously been forgiven. These findings have implications for goal-directed forgetting and the relationship between forgiveness and memory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1302
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number7
Early online date9 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Forgiveness
  • Motivated forgetting
  • Inhibition


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