Nicole Marie Miller, Sarah A. Wilhoit



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The relationships between interpersonal forgiveness, perfectionism, and religious orientation have been previously studied (e.g., Ashby & Huffman, 1999; Dixon, Earl, Lutz-Zois, Goodnight, & Peatee, 2014; Meek, Albright, & McMinn, 1995; Steffen, 2013). However, the present study examines how different types of forgiveness, self-forgiveness and perceived forgiveness from God, are related to perfectionism and religious orientation. Previous research indicates that self-evaluative perfectionism, the more maladaptive type of perfectionism (Hill et al., 2004), is negatively associated with intrinsic religious orientation (Ashby & Huffman, 1999). Those with an intrinsic orientation, who profess faith as central to their identity (Allport & Ross, 1967), are more likely to self-forgive (Gordon et al., 2008). Conversely, self-evaluative perfectionism is positively associated with extrinsic orientation (Ashby & Huffman, 1999; Steffen, 2013), in which religion is practiced for social benefits. The present study used a subset of pre-collected data from a larger pool. We first hypothesized that the relationship between self-evaluative perfectionism and self-forgiveness would be mediated by religious orientation. Second, we hypothesized that the relationship between religious orientation and self-forgiveness would be moderated by perceived forgiveness from God, such that people higher in intrinsic religiosity would self-forgive to the extent that they felt forgiven by God. This was not predicted for people higher in extrinsic religiosity. Results indicated that religious orientation did not mediate the relationship between self-evaluative perfectionism and self-forgiveness. Further, perceived forgiveness from God did not moderate the relationship between religious orientation and self-forgiveness in those who were higher in intrinsic religiosity, but it did moderate a positive relationship in those who were higher in extrinsic religiosity. The findings of this study were unexpected, warranting additional research looking into factors that may make extrinsically religious people more likely to self-forgive if they are forgiven by God.

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Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Lee J. Dixon

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Perfectionism, Religious Orientation, and Self-Forgiveness: Mediating and Moderating Factors