Culture and forgiveness: a prototype perspective
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Forgiveness is a concept virtually everyone is familiar with, yet little empirical research has been conducted with regards to defining the concept across cultures. Thus, it is possible that current forgiveness theories, definitions, and models have a Western bias and may not be appropriate for other cultures. Given the gaps in the current literature, the goal of this research was to examine the similarities and differences in how members of Eastern and Western cultures characterize forgiveness. Following a forgiveness prototype analysis conducted by Kearns and Fincham (2004) in an American sample, we took a prototype approach across 3 studies such that participants were asked to generate and rate the importance of forgiveness features. Based on established cultural differences, we expected Japanese and American descriptions of forgiveness to vary in terms of being self- or other-oriented (Markus & Kitayama, 1991), harmony (Wierzbicka, 1997), and influence and adjustment (Weisz, et al., 1984).