Forgiveness Among Nations
These projects study how a formal political process can advance
reconciliation and whether we are more likely to forgive someone
of our own group.
"Is There a Role
for Forgiveness & Spirituality in Coping with Combat Trauma?"
Ming Tsuang, M.D., Ph.D., at the Harvard Institute for Psychiatric
Epidemiology and Genetics, proposes to describe an empirical investigation
of the role of forgiveness in coping with trauma associated with
military service in Vietnam. The overall objective is to use unique
methodology to draw general conclusions regarding the actual and
potential roles of forgiveness for coping with combat and other
traumatic, life-threatening experiences. This study will utilize
the VET Registry to identify and interview 170 pairs of identical
twins, one of which will have had combat exposure while the other
twin will not have served in Vietnam.
"Truth & Forgiveness
in South Africa: A Multidisciplinary Approach"
Audrey Chapman, Ph.D., representative of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science, will work with members of the government
of South Africa to analyze the transcripts of the testimonies of
the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the grand political
experiment of our time. President Mandela, instead of seeking to
purge the country of people who embraced apartheid (literally apartness
of the races), sought to heal the wounds of the people through setting
up a political process that encouraged confession of political crimes
and the granting of amnesty in return for speaking the truth. As
hundreds of people in South Africa have testified in TRC hearings,
tales of horrible wrongdoings and responses of moving forgiveness
have come forth. Chapman hopes to discover some of the qualities
of the human spirit that can promote forgiveness in the face of
grief, loss, and horror through analyzing transcripts of testimonies.
& the Reduction of Intergroup Conflict"
Ed Cairns, Ph.D., at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland,
in the Centre for the Study of Conflict, seeks to provide the first
extensive theoretical and empirical study of intergroup forgiveness
within Northern Ireland. One of this study's ideas is that much
of our social behavior is determined by our social group. Thus we
are more likely to forgive acts of violence committed by one of
our own group than by someone with whom we did not associate. Utilizing
eight studies, Cairns proposes to show that under appropriate conditions
the differences between any two groups will not be perceived, and
this will bring about a reconciliation.
& the Truth & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa"
Jeffrey Sonis, Ph.D., in the Department of Family Medicine at the
University of Michigan, proposes to study the potential role of
forgiveness in improving racial and ethnic tension. He will also
provide practical information to South Africa on the efficacy of
the Truth and Reconciliation process. Doing so may serve long-term
societal aims such as prevention of cycles of revenge, and development
of faith in the structure of the government. This study will identify
and follow victims of human rights abuses, half of whom testified
before the TRC and half of whom did not.
& Reconciliation in Rwanda"
Ervin Staub, Ph.D., in the Department of Psychology at the University
of Massachusetts- Amherst, is part of the Trauma, Research, Education,
and Training Institute. He and a team of researchers seek to investigate
whether-and if so, how-forgiveness can possibly occur in Rwanda.
He will constitute groups of Hutus, of Tutsis, and of mixtures of
the tribes. People who did not directly participate in the massacres
are included so that victims and families of those killed can more
easily come to forgive members of the other tribe.
from Evolutionary & Cross-cultural Perspective"
David Sloan Wilson, Ph.D., in the Department of Biological Sciences
at Binghamton University, proposes to study whether forgiveness
is essential to adaptive moral systems in cultures around the world.
Morality will be explained as an evolved set of traits that causes
whole groups to function as adaptive units, and the way tendencies
to forgive are used as building blocks to preserve order within
and between smaller societies throughout human history. The ability
of people to form into functionally integrated social groups is
a broad development in evolutionary biology that provides the foundation
for the research.
A Campaign for Forgiveness Research
funded 46 innovative research projects on the effects of forgiveness.
Now you can read about their discoveries.