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HFS

History of the Heartland Forgiveness Project


In 1998, Laura Yamhure Thompson was a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at the University
of Kansas. As she considered areas of research for her dissertation and future career, she asked the
director of her graduate program, C. R. Snyder, for advice. At the end of their meeting, Dr. Snyder

handed Laura Yamhure Thompson a copy of a call for applications for grants to study forgiveness,
and he suggested that she consider it.
The grants were being awarded by The John Templeton Foundation, which had begun A Campaign
for Forgiveness Research. This campaign was a competition intended to spur scientific study of
forgiveness. Under the leadership of Everett L. Worthington, Jr., Ph.D., Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Ruby Bridges Hall, and Robert Coles, M.D., the John Templeton Foundation and other donors
eventually contributed over 7 million dollars to this campaign.
After her conversation with Dr. Snyder, Laura Yamhure Thompson found it impossible to sleep that
night. The topic was so interesting, uplifting, and profound to her that she wrote well into the next
day about her thoughts regarding a psychological model and definition of forgiveness. When she
presented her ideas to Dr. Snyder, he, in his characteristically optimistic and magnanimous manner,
suggested that the two of them apply for a three-year grant to study forgiveness.
C. R. Snyder and Laura Yamhure Thompson named their proposed research program The Heartland
Forgiveness Project. In 1998, A Campaign for Forgiveness Research awarded The Heartland
Forgiveness Project a three-year grant, which was subsequently extended for a fourth year. The
funds for the grant were provided by the John Templeton Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, and other
donors. Lesa Hoffman joined the Heartland Forgiveness Project in 2000. She assisted with
statistical analysis and research design. Her quantitative expertise was invaluable to the project.
The Heartland Forgiveness Project was a program of research that was designed to study a model of
forgiveness using a new measure of forgiveness, the Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS). The HFS
and the results of six studies from the Heartland Forgiveness Project were published in the Journal
of Personality in April of 2005.
The Model and Definition of Forgiveness
Learn more about the model and definition of forgiveness upon which the HFS is based.
About the HFS
Learn more about the HFS.
HFS Citation and Abstract
See the full citation and abstract for the 2005 HFS article published in the Journal of Personality.

The Heartland Forgiveness Scale is based on the following definition and model of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is defined as the framing of a perceived transgression such that ones responses to the
transgressor, transgression, and sequelae of the transgression are transformed from negative to
neutral or positive. The source of a transgression, and therefore the object of forgiveness, may be
oneself, another person or persons, or a situation that one views as being beyond anyones control
(e.g., an illness, fate, or a natural disaster). (Thompson et al., 2005, p. 318).
The process of forgiveness, transforms a persons responses to the transgressor, transgression, and
the negative consequences (i.e., the sequelae) of the transgression. Responses are a persons
transgression- and transgressor-related thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The concept of responses
has two components, valence and strength. Valence refers to whether the thoughts, feelings, or
behaviors are negative, neutral, or positive. Strength refers to the intensity and intrusiveness of the
thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, and it can vary as a result of factors such as the perceived harm
caused by the transgression.

A person who forgives may transform his or her negative responses by (a) changing the
valence from negative to either neutral or positive, or (b) changing both the valence and
strength of the responses.
In order to forgive, the valence of a persons responses must change, at least to neutral. Some argue
that in order to forgive, a person must develop compassion and empathy for the transgressor. In the
model of forgiveness upon which the HFS is based, it is not necessary to develop positive
responses such as compassion and empathy. Neutral responses are considered sufficient for
forgiveness.
It is not necessary for a person to change the strength of his or her responses in order to
forgive. Nonetheless, weakening ones responses may foster forgiveness because it decreases the
intrusiveness or intensity of negative transgression-related thoughts or feelings. Thus, weakening of
responses may be involved when people report that time has helped them to forgive.
The inclusion of situations as a potential source of transgressions (and target of forgiveness)
appears to be unique to this conceptualization of forgiveness, and to the Heartland
Forgiveness Scale. Situations that violate peoples positive assumptions and lead to negative
responses to those situations are responded to as transgressions. For example, a catastrophic illness
might violate a persons assumptions of invulnerability or meaningfulness (e.g., Im healthy and
bad things dont happen to good people for no reason), and lead to negative thoughts, feelings, or
behaviors about the illness and related sequelae (e.g., feelings of anger or sadness and the thoughts
this has ruined my life; I dont deserve this).
About the HFS
Learn more about the HFS.
HFS Citation and Abstract
See the full citation and abstract for the 2005 HFS article published in the Journal of Personality.
HFS Citation and Abstract
http://www.heartlandforgiveness.com/take-the-heartland-forgiveness-scale/
Thompson, L. Y., Snyder, C. R., Hoffman, L., Michael, S. T., Rasmussen, H. N., Billings, L. S.,
Heinze, L., Neufeld, J. E., Shorey, H. S., Roberts, J. C, & Roberts, D. E. (2005). Dispositional
forgiveness of self, others, and situations. Journal of Personality, 73, 313-359.
Six studies regarding forgiveness are presented. The Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS), a selfreport measure of dispositional forgiveness (with subscales to assess forgiveness of self, others, and
situations) was developed and demonstrated good psychometric properties. Forgiveness correlated
positively with cognitive flexibility, positive affect, and distraction; it correlated negatively with
rumination, vengeance, and hostility. Forgiveness predicted four components of psychological wellbeing (anger, anxiety, depression, and satisfaction with life); forgiveness of situations accounted for
unique variance in these components of psychological well-being. Forgiveness and hostility
demonstrated equivalent, inverse associations with relationship duration, and forgiveness accounted
for unique variance in relationship satisfaction, even when controlling for trust. Forgiveness level
correlated positively with decreased negativity in statements written about transgressions in the
present versus the past tense.
When citing a translation of the HFS, please be sure to credit the translator(s) and to cite the
original HFS.

Heartland Foregiveness Scale Greek ()


Dr. Despina Moraitou, Cognitive Psychology
School of Psychology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Email: chara333@hol.gr
Phone/Fax: +302310201372
Heartland Foregiveness Scale Japanese ( )
Aya Osanai, Masato Furukawa
Showa Womens University
Osanai, A., & Furukawa, M. (2005). Development of a Japanese version of the heartland
forgiveness scale. Annual Bulletin of Psychological Studies, Showa Womens University, 8, 51-57.
Heartland Foregiveness Scale Thai ()
Ruck Chunhakan
Counselling Psychology
Stinakarintravirot University, Thailand
Email: ruck_chun@hotmail.com
Heartland Foregiveness Scale Turkish (Trke)
ASLI BUGAY, Research Assistant
Department of Educational Sciences, Division of Psychological Counseling and Guidance
Middle East Technical University (METU), Turkey
Email: bugay@metu.edu.tr
Phone: 903122104029
Fax: 903122107967

Scoring

Pubs Using HFS


The following are citations and abstracts for articles and other publications in which the HFS has
been used.
Article: Barber, Maltby, & Macaskill (2005)
Barber, L., Maltby, J., & Macaskill, A. (2005). Angry memories and thoughts of revenge: The
relationship between forgiveness and anger rumination. Personality and Individual Differences,
39(2), 253-262. This study examined the relationship between a two-dimensional model of

forgiveness and Sukhodolsky et al. (2001) 4-factor model of anger rumination among 200
university students. Anger memories were [...]
Article: Day & Maltby (2005)
Day, L., & Maltby, J. (2005). Forgiveness and social loneliness. Journal of Psychology:
Interdisciplinary and Applied, 139(6), 553-555. For the most part, research into forgiveness centers
on the role of forgiveness of others. However, within the forgiveness literature, there is a threedimensional model of dispositional forgiveness (Yamhure-Thompson & Snyder, 2002) which, aside
from forgiveness of others, [...]
Article: Edwards, Lapp-Rincker, Magyar-Moe, et al. (2002)
Edwards, L. M., Lapp-Rincker, R., Magyar-Moe, J., Rehfeldt, J. D., Ryder, J. A., Brown, J. C., et al.
(2002). A positive relationship between religious faith and forgiveness: Faith in the absence of data?
Pastoral Psychology, 50(3), 147-152. The present study investigated the relationship between
religious faith and forgiveness in a sample of 196 college students. Students [...]
Article: Kashdan, Julian, Merritt, & Uswatte (2006)
Kashdan, T. B., Julian, T., Merritt, K., & Uswatte, G. (2006). Social anxiety and posttraumatic stress
in combat veterans: Relations to well-being and character strengths. Behaviour Research and
Therapy, 44(4), 561-583. There are few studies examining the relationship between
psychopathology and positive experiences and traits. Although initial studies suggest persons with
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are [...]
Article: Koutsos, Wertheim, & Kornblum (2008)
Koutsos, P., Wertheim, E. H., & Kornblum, J. (2008). Paths to interpersonal forgiveness: The roles
of personality, disposition to forgive and contextual factors in predicting forgiveness. Personality
and Individual Differences, 44(2), 337-348. This study examined a multi-factorial model of
forgiveness in which personality of the offended party, disposition to forgive, and context-specific
factors were examined as [...]
Article: Macaskill (2007)
Macaskill, A. (2007). Exploring religious involvement, forgiveness, trust, and cynicism. Mental
Health, Religion & Culture, 10(3), 203-218. Forgiveness is a core value within Christianity and
many other religions, but it is unclear whether valuing forgiveness results in individuals being more
forgiving. This study examines the effect of Christian religious belief on forgiveness; tests the
theoretical speculation [...]
Article: Miley, & Spinella (2006)
Miley, W. M., & Spinella, M. (2006). Correlations among measures of executive function and
positive psychological attributes in college students. Journal of General Psychology, 133(2), 175182. Executive functions are cognitive abilities that allow for more goal-oriented and autonomous
behavior. The authors examined the relationship between self-rated executive functions and 3
positive personality attributes (satisfaction with life, [...]
Article: Ross, Hertenstein, & Wrobel (2007)
Ross, S. R., Hertenstein, M. J., & Wrobel, T. A. (2007). Maladaptive correlates of the failure to
forgive self and others: Further evidence for a two-component model of forgiveness. Journal of
Personality Assessment, 88(2), 158-167. In a sample composed of 162 young adults, the authors
examined the generalizability of an orthogonal, 2-component model of forgiveness previously [...]

Article: Sigmon, & Snyder (2006)


Sigmon, D. R., & Snyder, C. R. (2006). Offense-taking: Development and validation of a trait selfreport measure. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 30(4), 445-456. Offense-taking is defined as the
perceived deprivation of what is rightfully due to a person. Using this definition, a trait self-report
measure of the proneness to take offense was developed and validated. The [...]
Article: Snyder, & Heinze (2005)
Snyder, C. R., & Heinze, L. S. (2005). Forgiveness as a mediator of the relationship between PTSD
and hostility in survivors of childhood abuse. Cognition and Emotion, 19(3), 413-431. It was
hypothesised that forgiveness mediates the relationship between PTSD and hostility within a
population of adult childhood abuse survivors. Of the three components of forgiveness-self, other,
[...]
Article: Strelan (2007)
Strelan, P. (2007). The prosocial, adaptive qualities of just world beliefs: Implications for the
relationship between justice and forgiveness. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(4), 881890. The relationship between belief in a just world (BJW) and forgiveness was examined in 275
participants. Personal BJW was positively related, and unjust world beliefs negatively related, to
forgiveness of others. [...]
Article: Strelan (2007)
Strelan, P. (2007). Who forgives others, themselves, and situations? the roles of narcissism, guilt,
self-esteem, and agreeableness. Personality and Individual Differences, 42(2), 259-269. This study
extended forgiveness research by examining the relationships between narcissism, guilt, selfesteem, agreeableness, and forgiveness of others, self, and situations (N = 176). Narcissistic
entitlement was negatively related, and Agreeableness positively related, [...]
Article: Strelan, Acton, & Patrick (2009)
Strelan, P., Acton, C., & Patrick, K. (2009). Disappointment with god and well-being: The
mediating influence of relationship quality and dispositional forgiveness. Counseling and Values,
53(3), 202-213. This study examined the extent to which disappointment with God influenced the
psychological and spiritual well-being of 160 churchgoers, and the potential mediating influences of
relationship quality (spiritual maturity [...]
Article: Thompson, Snyder, Hoffman, et al. (2005)
Thompson, L. Y., Snyder, C. R., Hoffman, L., Michael, S. T., Rasmussen, H. N., Billings, L. S.,
Heinze, L., Neufeld, J. E., Shorey, H. S., Roberts, J. C, & Roberts, D. E. (2005). Dispositional
forgiveness of self, others, and situations. Journal of Personality, 73, 313-359. Six studies regarding
forgiveness are presented. The Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS), a [...]
Book Chapter: Fischer (2006)
Fischer, P. C. (2006). The link between posttraumatic growth and forgiveness: An intuitive truth. In
R. G. Tedeschi (Ed.), Handbook of posttraumatic growth: Research & practice. (pp. 311-333).
Mahwah, NJ US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. This chapter is designed to describe
findings from a study with 226 individuals closely affected by the Oklahoma City bombing 7 [...]
Book: Friedman (2010)
Friedman, P. H. (2010). The forgiveness solution: The whole-body rx for finding true happiness,
abundant love, and inner peace. San Francisco: Conari Press.

Dissertation: Avery (2008)


Avery, C. M. (2008). The relationship between self-forgiveness and health: Mediating variables and
implications for well-being (ProQuest Information & Learning). Dissertation Abstracts
International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 69 (3-B) 1939. Although the study of
forgiveness has only recently begun to receive attention from the scientific community, the health
benefits of forgiveness have been [...]
Dissertation: Desjarlais (2005)
Desjarlais, V. W. (2005). Forgiveness, affect and life satisfaction among community-dwelling rural
elders: A correlational study (ProQuest Information & Learning). Dissertation Abstracts
International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 66 (1-B), 614. As the fastest growing
segment of the population today, seniors represent 12.4% of the population. Understanding what
may positively contribute to life satisfaction among [...]
Dissertation: Parker (2008)
Parker, B. (2008). The relation between hostility and social support: Investigating potential
mediation or moderation by trait forgiveness, attributional style, and trait empathy (ProQuest
Information & Learning). Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and
Engineering, 69 (1-B), 691. A substantial body of scientific literature has examined the relations
among hostility, social support, and physical and [...]
Dissertation: Reinke (2006)
Reinke, L. (2006). Christianity, forgiveness, and marital satisfaction: Is there a common thread that
links them? (ProQuest Information & Learning). Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B:
The Sciences and Engineering, 67 (4-B), 2240. For many years there has been a shortage of
research in the field of psychology pertaining to aspects of religiosity and marital functioning. More
[...]
Dissertation: Thompson (2004)
Thompson, L. Y. (2004). The relationship between stress and psoriasis severity: Forgiveness as a
moderator (ProQuest Information & Learning). Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The
Sciences and Engineering, 64 (9-B), 4639. The relationship between stress and psoriasis severity
was examined, with a focus on determining whether forgiveness is a moderator that buffers people
from the potentially [...]
Dissertation: Watson (2008)
Watson, M. J. (2008). The relationship between intrapersonal forgiveness and eating disorder
symptomatology in anorexic and bulimic adult females (ProQuest Information & Learning).
Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 68 (9-B), 6342.
Addictive behaviors have long been known to be a significant problem within American culture,
and it has been suggested that a [...]
Dissertation: Yoslow (2008)
Yoslow, M. (2008). The pride and price of remembrance: An empirical view of transgenerational
post-holocaust trauma and associated transpersonal elements in the third generation (ProQuest
Information & Learning). Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and
Engineering, 68 (8-B), 5600. This empirical, quantitative and qualitative study of 58 grandchildren
of Holocaust Survivors (21 men/37 women) sought [...]