Depression reduces forgiveness selectively as a function of relationship closeness and transgression

Man Chui TSE, Sheung-Tak CHENG

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17 Citations (Scopus)


We examined if depression predicts forgiveness beyond the effects of transgression and relationship closeness, and whether its effect on forgiveness is strongest in specific transgression–closeness situations. Hundred and nineteen university students were randomly assigned into one of two experimental conditions in which they were presented with hypothetical scenarios depicting a mild as well as a serious offense by either an acquaintance or a best friend. They also filled out a depression inventory. Results confirmed a depression × transgression × closeness interaction effect, in addition to a main effect of depression, on forgiveness. Whereas for nondepressed persons, closeness with the perpetrator enhances forgiveness given to a serious offense, it was not the case for depressed persons. Furthermore, depressed persons were less ready to forgive a mild offense by an acquaintance when compared with nondepressed ones. However, depressed and nondepressed persons were similarly forgiving when they were severely offended by an acquaintance, or when they were mildly offended by a best friend. These findings were explained in terms of how the cognitive biases of depressed people operate in different relationship contexts and under different emotional intensities following the offense. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1133-1141
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006



Tse, M. C., & Cheng, S.-T. (2006). Depression reduces forgiveness selectively as a function of relationship closeness and transgression. Personality and Individual Differences, 40(6), 1133-1141. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2005.11.008


  • Forgiveness
  • Closeness
  • Depression