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Forgiveness has been linked to aspects of the creative processes (e.g., mood, motivation, cognitive resources etc.) yet there is little research on the interaction of artistic expression and forgiveness. To evaluate the interaction between artistic expression in enabling interpersonal forgiveness, 45 undergraduate students were primed with unforgiveness by an eight minute conflict recall writing task adapted by Karremans, J.C., Van Lange, P.A.M., and Holland, R.W. (2005). The participants were randomly assigned to 3 conditions which each lasted 20 minutes. The conditions included Metaphor art making, Free Drawing art making or and a control task which used a digit symbol coding task. After each condition a 12 item self-report measure Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations (TRIM) inventory (McCullough et al.,1998) was used to assess levels of avoidance and revenge, two main indicators of unwillingness to forgive. Artwork created by participants in the Metaphor art making and Free Drawing art making conditions were collected. Of the participants who indicated they had not forgiven their offender, participants who were placed in the Free Drawing art making and Metaphor art making conditions were more likely to express revenge and avoidance towards their offender than those in the in the control condition. These results suggest that the act of drawing may increase unwillingness to forgive especially in the realm of revenge seeking and avoidance behaviors. This finding has implications for art therapists when working with clients who are working towards forgiving an interpersonal conflict.

Works Cited

Karremans, J.C., Van Lange, P.A.M., & Holland, R.W. (2005). Forgiveness and its associations with prosocial thinking, feeling and doing beyond the relationship of the offender. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31. 1315-1326.

Publication Date



Forgiveness; Art therapy



Primo Type

Conference Proceeding

Interactions Between Art-Based Interventions and Motivations of Interpersonal Forgiveness

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Psychology Commons