Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Sheldon Alexander


Revenge and forgiveness are commonplace aspects of social interaction. Past research has emphasized that rumination is an important cognitive correlate of both revenge and forgiveness. In the present research, we examined whether revenge attitudes and motivations, as well as forgiveness attitudes and tendencies might also be predicted by impulsivity. Two studies were conducted to investigate these possibilities. In Study 1 participants (N = 200) completed individual differences measures of impulsivity, rumination, procedural and distributive just world beliefs, and measures of revenge, forgiveness and avoidance. Structural equation modeling revealed that rumination predicted forgiveness tendencies, revenge motivations and avoidance. Additionally, revenge attitudes were found to mediate the relationship between impulsivity and forgiveness tendencies, revenge motivations and avoidance. Study 2 was an exploratory attempt to determine whether the self-report individual differences measures used in Study 1 would predict participants' reaction times on a modified Stroop task. Specifically, participants (N = 145) completed the same self-report measures used in Study 1. After completing the self-report measures, 100 participants completed a modified Stroop task where they were asked to name the color of 16 unique words from four categories: revenge, forgiveness, justice and neutral. Multiple regression analyses indicated that revenge attitudes predicted slower color naming reaction times to the revenge and forgiveness word categories. Additionally, rumination-intrusion predicted slower color naming reaction times across all word categories. The combined findings indicate that important cognitive and affective variables such as rumination and impulsivity are important to consider in future investigations of revenge and forgiveness. Limitations, as well as directions for future research also are discussed.