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Forgiveness & Unforgiveness


Dr. Boon embarked on the study of forgiveness as early as her dissertation. Since then, she and her students and collaborators have explored forgiveness from a number of angles. Today, forgiveness is one of the three main topics that dominate their research interests. Currently, she and her Lovelab team are particularly interested in exploring amends-making and forgiveness from the perpetrator's perspective (what Dr. Boon likes to call the "redemption" studies)


That's just the opposite of forgiving, right? Not so, in the minds of Dr. Boon and her students and collaborators. Inspired by experiences one of her honours students had working with callers to a crisis line, the Lovelab team are exploring what makes forgiving different than not forgiving. In recent years, unforgiveness has become one of the three most-studied topics in Dr. Boon's lab.

Society extols the virtues of forgiveness and research investigating victims supports links between forgiveness and a victim's physical and psychological wellbeing. But the reality is that victims do not always forgive and, in some cases, may hold longstanding grudges against those who wrong them. Moreover, research suggests that an act need not be especially severe to remain unforgiven: Sometimes people are unwilling to forgive even fairly mundane transgressions. Understanding how people respond when they do not forgive-or do not forgive completely- is thus of critical importance.