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Strelan, Peter, Van Prooijen, Jan-Willem and Gollwitzer, Mario ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4310-4793 (April 2020): When transgressors intend to cause harm. The empowering effects of revenge and forgiveness on victim well-being. In: British Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 59, No. 2: pp. 447-469

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When people are transgressed against, they are usually motivated to restore personal power that was threatened by the transgression. We argue and test the new idea that while revenge and forgiveness responses are typically seen as opposites, both may be empowering, depending on the offender’s intent to harm. Across two studies, one experimental (N = 381) and one employing an autobiographical recall paradigm (N = 251), we tested a moderated mediation model. Notably, we found that revenge is empowering at high levels of intent and forgiveness is empowering regardless of intent. Importantly, we also demonstrate that empowerment provides an explanation for the process by which getting revenge and forgiving are each associated with improved affective outcomes for victims.

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