Recent theorising has suggested that in non-Western collectivist contexts, the need for social harmony may play a greater role than empathy in motivating forgiveness, and that women may be more impacted than men by this cultural value. In this study, a sample of 233 Malaysian undergraduate students, 100 males and 133 females, recruited from four English-mediated universities completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) and the Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations Inventory-12 (TRIM-12) to assess dimensions of empathy and forgiveness. Women exhibited greater empathic concern than men, but not greater perspective-taking. Men were less forgiving in terms of revenge-seeking behaviour, but men and women did not differ in avoidance of transgressors. The relationships between empathic concern and both facets of forgiveness were similar for men and women, as was the relationship between empathic concern and avoidance. However, the relationship between perspective-taking and avoidance was stronger among men than women. We found little support for the prediction that in this collectivist cultural context, perspective-taking would play a greater role than empathic concern in forgiveness. Further research is recommended to explore empathy and forgiveness in non-Western populations, with a need to take into account cultural factors.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 31, 2012
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