Prior research has assessed the temporal unfolding of forgiveness and found that forgiveness becomes more likely as time distances the victim from the transgression. These findings lend credence to the axiom time heals all wounds. This research examines the effect of time perception on forgiveness of others by experimentally manipulating temporal distance. In Experiment 1, respondents reported greater willingness to forgive the transgressor when more time had elapsed since the transgression. Experiments 2 and 3 determined the influence of subjective temporal distance on willingness to forgive. Participants who perceived a hypothetical (Experiment 2) or real (Experimental 3) transgression to be farther away in time were more willing to forgive the target than were participants who perceived the event to be temporally closer. Results suggest that temporal appraisals of an event are central to the forgiveness process.

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Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Carleton University

Wohl, M, & McGrath, A.L. (April L.). (2007). The perception of time heals all wounds: Temporal distance affects willingness to forgive following an interpersonal transgression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(7), 1023–1035. doi:10.1177/0146167207301021