The relationship between quest religious orientation, forgiveness, and mental health

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Clinical Psychology


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Lee Dixon


Many religious traditions encourage forgiveness but little is known about how religious orientation, specifically quest, characterized less by dogmatic doctrinal beliefs and more by belief in spiritual development as a journey that involves questioning and doubting, relates to forgiveness. In addition, research on the relationship between quest and psychological distress has yielded conflicting findings. A possible reason for the inconsistent findings is that previous studies have conceptualized quest as a unidimensional construct. The purpose of this study was to investigate how quest and its recently recognized dimensions related to forgiveness and psychological distress. Participants (N=242) were recruited from introductory and upper-level classes at a medium-sized, midwestern Catholic university. They completed measures of quest (the Multidimensional Quest Orientation Scale and the Quest Scale), forgiveness (the Forgiveness Scale with additional questions regarding perceived tolerance of offender, and the Forgiveness Likelihood Scale) and psychological distress (the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale). Results suggested that certain dimensions of quest were better predictors of forgiveness (e.g., tentativeness, exploration and moralistic interpretation) and distress (e.g., change, religious angst, and existential motives). More importantly, results revealed that same dimensions that were positively related to distress were negatively related to forgiveness. Further, the relationship between quest and forgiveness appears to be moderated by the perceived tolerance/open-mindedness level of the offender.


Psychology, Religious, Forgiveness Religious aspects, Distress (Psychology) Religious aspects, Toleration Religious aspects, Spiritual formation Psychological aspects, Experience (Religion) Psychological aspects

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Copyright © 2010, author