Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kevin T. Larkin.


This study sought to investigate the relation between forgiveness and cardiovascular reactivity and recovery in the laboratory as influenced by apology. Men (n = 29) and women (n = 50) were chosen for participation based on scoring in the top or bottom third of the Forgiving Personality Inventory. Participants were exposed to an interpersonal transgression (i.e., harassment by the experimenter) while performing a serial subtraction task. Cardiovascular activity was measured before, during, and following the task. Also following the task, approximately half of the participants received an apology from the experimenter for his/her scripted rude behavior. No reactivity differences during the serial subtraction task were observed across groups (all ps > .05). During the recovery period, however, persons high in forgiveness displayed more rapid diastolic and mean arterial blood pressure recovery (ps < .05). This effect was most prominent directly following the apology, where women high in forgiveness who received an apology benefitted the most in diastolic and mean arterial blood pressure recovery (ps .05). Regarding the overall effects of the apology, women who received an apology recovered from the transgression more quickly than women who did not receive an apology (ps < .05). Surprisingly, the effect was in the opposite direction for men who displayed higher diastolic and mean arterial blood pressure upon recovery from the transgression if they received an apology (ps < .05).These results indicate that that the potentially healthful benefits associated with forgiveness and apology may be moderated by sex.