Perceived goal instrumentality is associated with forgiveness: A test of the valuable relationships hypothesis

Adam Smith, Thomas G. McCauley, Ayano Yagi, Kazuho Yamaura, Hiroshi Shimizu, Michael E. McCullough, Yohsuke Ohtsubo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Three autobiographical studies tested the valuable relationships hypothesis of forgiveness. Although previous studies revealed that relationship value predicts interpersonal forgiveness, the measure of relationship value may be conflated with affective assessments of the relationship with the transgressor, which might have caused a criterion contamination problem. Therefore, we assessed the goal-related instrumentality of the transgressor (i.e., how useful the transgressor is for helping the victim to achieve his/her goals in fitness-relevant domains). Three studies, one involving a Japanese student sample (Study 1), a second involving Japanese community sample (Study 2), and a third involving U.S. community sample (Study 3), convergently showed that perceived goal instrumentality, as well as a latent relationship value variable estimated from multiple measures of relationship value, are associated with forgiveness. Moreover, this association could be explained in part by the intermediate association of perceived goal instrumentality with empathy both in Japan and the U.S.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-68
Number of pages11
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Empathy
  • Exploitation risk
  • Forgiveness
  • Goal instrumentality
  • Relationship value
  • Valuable relationships hypothesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Perceived goal instrumentality is associated with forgiveness: A test of the valuable relationships hypothesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this