Exploring the Predictive Values of Cognitive Distortions and Self-Esteem in Relation to Forgiveness

Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Bruce Zahn, EdD, ABPP

Second Advisor

Susan Panichelli-Mindel, PhD

Third Advisor

Rori Minissale, PsyD


The purpose of this study is to examine if cognitive distortions and self-esteem can predict forgiveness. A group of 143 individuals were contacted through a graduateschool list-serve and social media and were asked to complete multiple measures. The measures used included the Inventory of Cognitive Distortions (ICD), Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS), Multidimensional Self-Esteem Scale (revised Janis-Field Scale), and a brief questionnaire to collect demographic information on each participant. Results revealed that self-esteem and cognitive distortions could predict overall willingness to forgive. Furthermore, results indicated that the cognitive distortions perfectionism and externalization of self-worth could predict willingness to forgive self (p < .001), while the cognitive distortions dichotomous thinking and emotional reasoning significantly predicted willingness to forgive others (p < .001) and the cognitive distortions magnification and should statements significantly predicted willingness to forgive a situation (p < .001). Lastly, results indicated that self-esteem is positively associated with willingness to forgive self, others, or a situation. Future research should consider the role of schemas as a possible factor in explaining willingness to forgive. Additionally, future studies may want to explore how the predictor factor of religion/spirituality predicts forgiveness.

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