Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Prayer increases forgiveness, study shows

Date:
February 1, 2010
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Is it possible that directed prayer might spark forgiveness in those doing the praying -- and in the process preserve relationships?

We have all been guilty of a transgression at one time or another. That's because we're not perfect. We all commit hurtful acts, violate trust, and hope for forgiveness.

That's simply a fact, and here's another one: Nine out of 10 Americans say that they pray -- at least on occasion. Florida State University psychologist Nathaniel Lambert put these two facts together and came up with an idea: Why not take all that prayer and direct it at the people who have wronged us? Is it possible that directed prayer might spark forgiveness in those doing the praying -- and in the process preserve relationships?

Lambert and his colleagues decided to test this scientifically in two experiments appearing in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. In the first, they had a group of men and women pray one single prayer for their romantic partner's well being. Others -- the experimental controls -- they simply described their partner, speaking into a tape recorder.

Then they measured forgiveness. The scientists defined forgiveness as the diminishing of the initial negative feelings that arise when you've been wronged. Their results showed that those who had prayed for their partner harbored fewer vengeful thoughts and emotions: They were more ready to forgive and move on.

If one single prayer can cause such a striking difference in feelings, then what could prayer over a period of time do for a relationship? In a second study, the researchers had a group of men and women pray for a close friend every day for four weeks. Others simply reflected on the relationship, thinking positive thoughts but not praying for their friend's well-being. They also added another dimension. They used a scale to measure selfless concern for others -- not any particular person but other people generally. They speculated that prayer would increase selfless concern, which in turn would boost forgiveness.

And that's just what they found. But why? How does this common spiritual practice exert its healing effects? The psychological scientists have an idea: Most of the time, couples profess and believe in shared goals, but when they hit a rough patch, they often switch to adversarial goals like retribution and resentment. These adversarial goals shift cognitive focus to the self, and it can be tough to shake that self-focus. Prayer appears to shift attention from the self back to others, which allows the resentments to fade.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lambert et al. Motivating Change in Relationships: Can Prayer Increase Forgiveness? Psychological Science, 2010; 21 (1): 126 DOI: 10.1177/0956797609355634

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Prayer increases forgiveness, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134607.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2010, February 1). Prayer increases forgiveness, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134607.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Prayer increases forgiveness, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134607.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins