There’s no doubt that forgiving someone can be difficult, but some people find it harder than others – especially older men. Why is this the case?
According to a new study by the University of Missouri, forgiveness can backfire for some men. In fact, it suggests these men can actually be more depressed than men who are less forgiving.
Researchers say this might come down to our cultural views about forgiveness and masculinity.
“Forgiveness may be viewed as a more traditionally feminine behaviour to some men and therefore forgiving may not align with a more traditional masculine gender role,” the study’s co-author said.
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Commenting on the findings, Kira Newman of the Greater Good Science Centre, at Berkley University, theorised that forgiveness might make some men feel vulnerable and weak.
“For some, perhaps forgiveness is spurred by the recognition of their own past mistakes, which are never pleasant to contemplate, or perhaps they feel a sense of injustice because they are so generously forgiving while others are not,” she said.
“Whatever the explanation, the fact that forgiveness can backfire for some men might help explain why men are less forgiving in general.”
The study examined more than 1000 US adults over 67 years old, asking about their mental health, forgiveness habits and feelings of being unforgiven by others.
The report suggests that a forgiveness program for men might include contemplating examples of powerful, forgiving men, or reflecting on how forgiveness is actually a form of strength.
But they concluded the process of forgiveness isn’t fully understood and more studies are required.
Does a man in your life have trouble forgiving people? Do you have any theories of your own about the reason?