Contributions of Thought Leaders on Forgiveness

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Contributions of Thought Leaders on Forgiveness

Top thought leaders on forgiveness include Bob Enright, Everett Worthington, Loren Toussaint, and Michael McCullough.

Bob Enright

  • Professor Enright pioneered "the scientific study of forgiveness."
  • Enright published the first empirically-based article about forgiveness in the Journal of Adolescence on "how children, adolescents, and young adults thought about forgiveness, particularly with a focus on what circumstances would make their forgiving more likely."
  • According to Edpsych, he has been honored with "the campus-wide Hilldale Award in the Social Studies Division for his research on forgiveness, and the WARF Named Professorship, the Aristotelian Professorship in Forgiveness Science."
  • Enright's empirically-based treatment, "Forgiveness Therapy" that was published in 2015 is used by many mental health professionals.
  • His contribution to the study of forgiveness includes publications such as "The 8 keys to forgiveness," "Forgiveness therapy: An empirical guide for resolving anger and restoring hope," "The forgiving life", and others available here.

Everett Worthington

  • Everett Worthington is a Commonwealth Professor Emeritus. He retired from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2017.
  • He has been a leader in the study of forgiveness since 1990 when he began studying forgiveness scientifically.
  • According to his website, "from 1998 to 2005, he directed A Campaign for Forgiveness Research, a nonprofit organization that, during that time, awarded more than $6 million to studies on forgiving. He has also worked to help nurture researchers in other countries."
  • According to Oxford Bibliographies, Worthington's 2006 book, "Forgiveness and reconciliation: Theory and application, laid out the stress-and-coping theory of forgiveness in the most detail, and it provided ways that the theory could be used in psychological treatments from psychoeducation for people bothered by unforgiveness to more clinical psychological uses in individual psychotherapy, couple therapy, and group therapy."
  • His 2015 book, "Measures of Forgiveness," provides the best social psychological measures of forgiveness.

Loren Toussaint

  • Loren Toussaint is a professor of psychology at Luther College.
  • Loren Toussaint's research focuses on how forgiveness affects an individual's mental and physical health. According to Luther College, he has worked with other researchers to "publish and present papers at different conferences."
  • According to him, his most interesting project is the Handbook of Forgiveness. "It reviews over 50 published research articles on forgiveness and health and tries to draw conclusions" about what is known and what needs to be known in the future.
  • The 2015 published book, "Forgiveness and Health," details the benefits of forgiveness both physical and psychological.

Michael McCullough

  • Michael McCullough is a "professor of psychology at the University of Miami, where he directs the Laboratory for Social and Clinical Psychology."
  • According to Psychology Today, Michael McCullough and Worthington published an empirically-based intervention in 1995 in which the "goal was to change participants' psychology through the process of forgiveness."
  • His book "Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct," analyzes forgiveness as an aspect of human nature.

Research Strategy

To compile the list of thought leaders on forgiveness, we began by researching forgiveness in academic research. That search provided us with a large base of thought leaders from which to start. From there, we checked additional sources, including academic databases, psychology websites, and trusted media sites. We did this to verify that those provided in the list were leaders in their field, highly visible, and contributed to the study of forgiveness through their published works.

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