Testing the acceptability and utility of a web-based self-forgiveness letter intervention on self-forgiveness, intellectual humility, gratitude, and well-being.


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The field of clinical psychology traditionally emphasized the disease model when conceptualizing, diagnosing, and treating psychological distress and dysfunction. Positive psychology, however, studied the importance of human flourishing, strengths and virtues, quality of life, and resilience factors as components of assessment and treatment. The construct of self-forgiveness was typically researched and studied in the domain of positive psychology, though research has identified self-forgiveness as a promising target for clinical interventions. Existing research explored its relationship to clinical presentations such as substance use, interpersonal conflict, intimate partner violence, and anger reduction in diverse populations. The current study aimed to investigate the acceptability and utility of a web-based self-forgiveness letter intervention for improving self-forgiveness, intellectual humility, satisfaction with life, and mental well-being outcomes in an online, randomized sample. A total sample of 209 participants was recruited online from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (mTurk) database and randomly assigned to one of four conditions: self-forgiveness letter, gratitude letter, rumination writing, or neutral control writing task. Participants completed a questionnaire packet consisting of demographic information, self-report measures assessing self-forgiveness, intellectual humility, state humility, mental well-being, gratitude, and satisfaction with life, as well as self-report measures of shame, guilt, and positive and negative affect. Participants also identified a currently salient transgression he or she committed, briefly described it, and reported the relationship to the person transgressed against, as well as the value of that relationship. Results of the present study are placed within the context of existing literature, specifically recent efforts to develop self-forgiveness interventions and identify efficacious self-forgiveness techniques. Clinical presentations appropriate for self-forgiveness interventions were discussed. Finally, results of this study were discussed in the context of future directions for research and self-forgiveness intervention development.



Self-forgiveness. Positive psychology intervention. Intellectual humility. Gratitude.