Forgive and forget?

Chris Brown

Conflict is a part of any human relationship, which unfortunately can lead to physical or even psychological aggression. Transgressors will often later seek forgiveness in order to maintain the relationship in question or to repair their image to friends, co-workers, and in the case of celebrities, fans.  What factors influence a victim’s (as well as outsider’s) willingness to forgive?

R&B singer Chris Brown plead guilty to a felony assault charge for an episode of domestic violence involving his then-girlfriend, singer Rihanna, on February 8, 2009. Just a few days ago Brown released an apology to fans and Rihanna conceding “deepest regret” and shame for the incident, calling it inexcusable, and expressing his desire to become a role model once again.

Research has shown that differences in one’s willingness to forgive depend on the type of aggressive act concerned. When aggression was physical (relative to psychological) more weight was given to the intention of the aggressor to harm than to an apology (Gauché & Mullet, 2004).  It could also be important to consider whether Brown’s public apology was sincere. Or was it driven by career ambitions and a desire to fall back into public favor. This distinction may make all of the difference in whether he receives the forgiveness he seeks from his fans and more importantly his victim.

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Chris Brown Domestic Abuse Incident

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Chris Brown’s Apology

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Forgiveness for Physical vs. Psychological Aggression

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One response to “Forgive and forget?

  1. A few questions that come to mind:
    1. Why does physical aggression (vs psychological aggression) make the victim give more weight on the intention of the aggressor than on the apology? Is it something about the physical impact/repercussions of the act i.e.: physical scarring? Is there perhaps an evolutionary component to this?
    2. Would the focus of the victim change if the intention was accidental?

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