Maintaining harmony across the globe: The cross-cultural association between closeness and interpersonal forgiveness

Johan C. Karremans, Camillo Regalia, F. Giorgia Paleari, Frank D. Fincham, Ming Cui, Naomi Takada, Ken Ichi Ohbuchi, Kari Terzino, Susan E. Cross, Ayse K. Uskul

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    52 Citations (Scopus)


    Although previous research shows that relationship closeness plays a central role in an individual's willingness to forgive an offender, it is based exclusively on data from Western, individualistic cultures. In the current study, the authors examined the association between relationship closeness and forgiveness across six countries, including both traditionally individualistic- Italy, the Netherlands, the United States-and collectivistic cultures-Japan, China (and one country, Turkey, with both individualistic and collectivistic features). Results demonstrated that, cross-culturally, there was a robust positive association between closeness toward the offender and level of forgiveness, both for trait-forgiveness and offense-specific forgiveness. However, this association was weaker in the collectivistic countries, which may suggest that strong norms in these countries to maintain social harmony may partly weaken the role of closeness in forgiveness. Overall, the present findings are discussed in terms of the possible evolutionary origins of forgiveness and the role of individualism/collectivism in forgiveness.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)443-451
    Number of pages9
    JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2011 Sep


    • Conflict
    • Culture and cognition
    • Evolutionary psychology
    • Forgiveness
    • Interpersonal relationships

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Clinical Psychology


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