The researchers completed six studies that examined people’s willingness to forgive in a variety of situations, including cases from everyday life in which people were hurt or offended, hypothetical offense situations, and a laboratory-based game situation in which one subject was faced with aggressive behavior by another. Across all six studies, a sense of entitlement was associated with unforgiving attitudes. The researchers also tracked forgiveness over time, and again, found that narcissistic individuals would not let go of their grudges. The studies also revealed that the effects of entitlement operated independently from other major predictors of forgiveness, such as religiosity, relationship closeness, offense severity and the presence of apologies.
“These studies suggest that a sense of entitlement is a substantial barrier to forgiveness,” stated Exline. “Entitled people are likely to insist on full repayment before they will consider forgiving. If they don’t receive this payment, they will often hold grudges on principle. Over time, such unforgiving tendencies may prevent the healing of wounded relationships and lead to social alienation.”
Exline was the lead author on the Journal article, with contributing researchers Roy Baumeister from Florida State University, Brad Bushman from the University of Michigan, W. Keith Campbell from the University of Georgia, and Eli Finkel from Northwestern University.
From a CWRU press release.