A clarification of forgiveness amongst African students
Forgiveness has been conceptualized differently in various studies (cf. McCullough, 2001 ; Karremans & van Lange, 2003; Lawler et al, 2003; Macaskill et al, 2002; Mc Brien, 2004; Watkins & Regmi, 2004)) largely within a Western and individualistic context. Few if any studies have indicated the nature of forgiveness within a collectivistic social context. There are various measures used for forgiveness and there is no clear indication what nature of forgiveness would be within some social contexts, therefore the aim of this study was to clarify forgiveness in an African context, amongst students. The study employed a cross-sectional survey research design. A convenience sample of 218 participants was drawn amongst students at the Mafikeng campus of the North-West University. Forgiveness measures were used within the framework of positive psychology. Except for the Mullet Scale and the Satisfaction with Life Scale, all the scales' reliability analysis was acceptable (Smit, 1991). The Affectometer, personality factors (measured by NEO), Satisfaction with Life Scale and the Willingness to Forgive Scale appeared valid and were confirmed in terms of the criteria set by Hu and Bentler (1995). There was a high correlation between most scales and the forgiveness measures (TRIM, WTF and MST), which measures positive aspects of functioning, and thus measure psychological well-being. A principal components analysis was performed on the forgiveness measures. The computation yielded two factors; one factor was characterized by avoidance of further conflict arising from transgression, and the other by a willingness to forgive a transgression. In this group forgiveness can be characterized by avoidance of further conflict and willingness leave a transgression in the past. The findings are interesting in the background of positive psychology in the sense that individuals seem to want positivity to surround their lives as they give up the negativity on an unforgiving nature. In terms of the definition of psychological well-being by Wissing et al (1999) forgiveness can also possibly enhance feelings of happiness, coherence, pain avoidance and thus optimal functioning. In this context, sharp relief can also be drawn to Erikson's theory of psychosocial development to establish whether an individual would rather forgive during a certain age than another It is recommended that more research of a cross-sectional be conducted within an individualistic social environment. This recommendation should also take into account more sociodemographic variables, such as gender, spirituality, emotional intelligence and so forth.
- Humanities