Parsing the components of forgiveness: Psychological and neural mechanisms

Publication date: Available online 20 February 2020Source: Neuroscience &Biobehavioral ReviewsAuthor(s): Melike M. Fourie, Ruud Hortensius, Jean DecetyAbstractForgiveness―a shift in motivation away from retaliation and avoidance towards increased goodwill for the perceived wrongdoer―is vital for restoring social relationships and positively impacts personal wellbeing and society at large. Parsing the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of forgiveness remains an outstanding challenge (not least because of conceptual and methodological difficulties in the field), but contributes theoretical clarity. Here, we critically examine the neuroscientific evidence to provide a theoretical framework that accounts for the proximate mechanisms underlying forgiveness. Specifically, we integrate empirical evidence from social psychology and neuroscience to propose that forgiveness relies on three distinct and interacting psychological components: cognitive control, perspective taking, and social valuation. The implication of the lateral prefrontal cortex, temporoparietal junction, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, respectively, is discussed in the brain networks subserving these distinct component processes. Finally, we outline some caveats that limit the translational value of existing social neuroscience research and provide directions for future research to advance the field of forgiveness.Graphical Abstract
Source: Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews - Category: Neuroscience Source Type: research

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