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Ethical Aspect of the study
Psychologists view forgiveness and reconciliation as two parallel phenomena; this difference, they say, is adaptive, such that one may forgive a deceased person without necessarily returning into (the) relationship (Frise & McMinn, 2010). In this case forgiveness has happened, but reconciliation due to the prevailing circumstances or simply a matter of personal choice, has not.
As obvious as this argument may seem, the relation between forgiveness and reconciliation is not as simple as such. On the contrary, there has been debate over this matter, especially piqued by disagreements from Christian theologians, suggesting that reconciliation is necessary for true forgiveness. This is the ethical aspect that this research paper investigates.
Strengths, Limitations and Suggestions
Like most quantitative studies this research study is limited by the virtue of its research design through study biases; the major types of bias in quantitative research are undercoverage, non-response bias and voluntary response bias all of which are present here (Adams & Schvaneveldt, 1985).
Undercoverage bias occurs when a sample size does not meet the minimum number of cases of the larger population leading to under representation of the population.
Non-responsiveness occurs when significant numbers of sample cases that have already been chosen fails to respond by answering the required information. This compromises the quality of the research study and complicates the data analysis process.
Finally, voluntary response bias occurs when sample cases are selected based on their voluntary choice as is also the case in this study. This is largely because the study opted to use survey as it research design.
Based on the research design there is evidence of measures put in place to control against most of these biases which strengthens the study findings; this is the strength to the study.
Lastly, because the researchers had no means of verifying the identity of the cases sampled since the form were electronically filled online, anyone could have impersonated the intended subjects and filled the same form. I therefore suggest that verifiable means of intended subjects be put in place.
This study utilized both qualitative and quantitative research design where case-control groups were used in investigating the objectives of the study. This study design lacks a critical component of research studies; that of randomization.
The participants for this research study were not randomly selected, rather they were chosen through what we refer as purposive sampling because in this case only subjects of particular profession were being considered. The implication of this approach is that the study findings might be limited and cannot be generalized.
Based on the level of statistical tools used to analyze the data, I can conclude that the data quality for this research study is very high despite the limitations of the actual data.
As expected prior to the survey, there were clear differences between psychologists on forgiveness and reconciliation and the relationship between them.
As already alluded to, psychologist respondents stuck with the argument that forgiveness is independent of reconciliation and is a personal/unilateral act, carried out solely on the (personal) choice of the offended and is possible without reconciliation. The main support for this argument has to do with the fact that it is possible to forgive a deceased offender.
In favor of this stand, a number of psychologists (12% of the respondents) brought to question the relational dangers that reconciliation may bring (Frise & McMinn, 2010). For example, they warned of the trauma that a victim of abuse may suffer if one insists on reconciliation as a condition for forgiveness.
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However, while still maintaining their stand on the distinction between the two, some psychologists (29% of respondents) sought to point out the link between them, as well as the role that each plays in that relationship (Frise & McMinn, 2010).
Some of these argued that reconciliation helps (speeds up) forgiveness while others thought that it is forgiveness that facilitates reconciliation. Notable here was the lack of a clear stand over which of the two leads to the other.
Still, in the end, the key areas of conflict between the two sides became evident since forgiveness has deep roots in Christianity.
Here, forgiveness is explained from a theological perspective i.e. that God forgives for the ultimate purpose of reconciliation, which involves repentance and ultimately, restoration of the relationship with him (Frise & McMinn, 2010). Gregory Jones, a Christian theologian, argues that true forgiveness must mend what was broken before the offense occurred.
Both sides provide views that are in consistent with the current literature that indicates forgiveness involves two stages: first, the offended gets rid of “negative thoughts/feelings, including a hunger to revenge against the offender” (Frise & McMinn, 2010). Secondly, the offended develops “positive attitude: feelings, thoughts and behavior, towards the offender” (Frise & McMinn, 2010).
In conclusion, the interesting finding of this study is that some theologians agreed on the distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation (especially considering the banal relative rigidity of religion), but also that some psychologists agreed on the link between forgiveness and reconciliation, albeit vaguely.
Adams, G. & Schvaneveldt, K, (1985). Understanding Research Methods. New York: NY. Longman Inc.
Frise, N. & McMinn, M. (2010). Forgiveness and Reconciliation: The Differing Perspectives of Psychologists and Christian Theologians. Journal of Psychology And Theology, 38, (2): pp. 83-88.