Tagged: “conflict resolution”
Study in Greece and Saudi Arabia Reveals Teacher Attitudes on Forgiveness and Cross-Cultural Differences
Because school-based Forgiveness Education programs have been rigorously and repeatedly tested, there is little question about the effectiveness of such programs to provide significant reductions in student anger and depression as well as meaningful increases in tendency to forgive.
What is less certain—and, to date, barely studied—is what role a teacher’s personal understanding of forgiveness plays in influencing those outcomes. A just-completed scientific analysis, conducted by an international team of forgiveness researchers under the direction of Dr. Robert Enright, is providing some answers to that question.
“Teachers’ Views of Forgiveness Education: A Cross-Cultural Examination in Greece and Saudi Arabia” was published this month in the journal FIRE: Forum for International Research in Education (Vol. 7, Issue 3, 2023, pp. 99-116). FIRE publishes “internationally comparative education data and evidence-based achievement studies.”
The new study not only analyzed teachers’ views of forgiveness education but also explored cross-cultural similarities and differences with a total of 134 teachers participating—76 Greek and 58 Saudi. The two countries have unique and rich cultural histories and influences: Greece is part of the Eurozone and Eastern Orthodoxy is its main religion; Saudi Arabia is an Arab state, and its main religion is Islam.
Study participants completed a comprehensive online survey asking about the meaning of forgiveness, topics they felt should be included in forgiveness education, and their perceptions of the benefits and challenges of teaching forgiveness education. The questionnaires were then analyzed using a variety of assessment tools including two-tailed proportional testing.
Comparing Greek and Saudi Arabian teachers’ perspectives resulted in these findings:
- More Saudi than Greek teachers viewed forgiveness as reconciliation.
- More Saudi than Greek teachers viewed forgiveness as excusing an unjust act.
- More Greek than Saudi teachers viewed forgiveness as a merciful act.
- More Greek than Saudi teachers viewed calmer students as a benefit of forgiveness education.
- More Greek than Saudi teachers viewed conflict resolution skills to be a benefit of forgiveness education.
- More Saudi than Greek teachers thought students would take advantage of forgiveness.
“Those results reflect not only the cultural differences of the participants but also the fact that 31 of the Greek teachers had previously received several hours of forgiveness education training while none of the Saudi teachers had specific training or forgiveness teaching experience,” Dr. Enright observed. “This ground-breaking study is important because it emphasizes the influence teachers’ views can have on forgiveness education.”
Dr. Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI), added that studies like this one can help him and other forgiveness researchers tailor teacher training and customize curricula to better reflect effective implementation techniques.
In 2002, Dr. Enright initiated a forgiveness education program in Belfast, Northern Ireland that has now been in operation for over 20 consecutive years. His Belfast work is featured in the award-winning documentary The Power of Forgiveness.
Dr. Enright started similar programs in Liberia, West Africa in 2011 and in Israel-Palestine in 2013. He now has such programs in more than 30 regions around the world and an IFI Branch Office in Pakistan at the Government College University Lahore (GCU-Lahore, Pakistan).
In addition to Dr. Enright, the cross-cultural study was conducted by Peli Galiti, John Klatt, Nahlah Mandurah, and Lai Wong—all affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Author bios and the complete teacher survey instrument are included in the study document.
Read the full study: Teachers’ Views of Forgiveness Education.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Robert Enright has taken forgiveness from its traditional focus on individuals to a higher magnitude by concentrating on group forgiveness—an area of intervention that has dramatic implications for its ability to enhance peace efforts in the world.
Dr. Enright’s team, composed of 16 experienced researchers who collected data from 595 study participants in three different geographic and cultural settings of the world, developed and confirmed the veracity of a totally new measure of intergroup forgiveness—The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory (EGFI). Additionally, the team created and piloted a unique group administration process that operationalized the EGFI in a structured way.
“Our concept of intergroup forgiveness for this study was rooted in what groups, as opposed to the individuals who compose them, have the capacity to do,” says Dr. Enright, a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute. “The study supported the conclusion that this new measure had strong internal consistency, as well as convergent and discriminant validity.”
In other words, to paraphrase Dr. Enright’s synopsis of the EGFI, it works. That is the conclusion reached by Dr. Enright’s 16-member research team in their study report, Measuring Intergroup Forgiveness: The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory. The study was published earlier this year in Peace and Conflict Studies Journal (Vol. 27, No. 1), as the lead article for that issue of the journal.
To realistically test the measure, the team selected groups of people within countries that have historical conflicts that remain salient today. One group of participants was recruited from Asia with subsamples from Mainland China and from Taiwan. Another group of participants was recruited from Slovenia that contained subsamples from two different political parties with a history of violence toward each other. A third group of participants was recruited from the United States with subsamples that included a group of White Caucasian participants and a group of African American participants.
The new Inventory has 56 items across seven subscales and each subscale has eight items. Those subscales measure a group’s motivation and values regarding forgiveness, peace, and friendliness toward the other group. Similar to the Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EFI)—developed in 1995 and now the worldwide measurement tool of choice for assessing one person’s forgiveness of another—the EGFI has five questions at the end of the scale that are intended to assess pseudo-group-forgiveness or false forgiveness.
For this study, the inventory was translated into Mandarin Chinese and Slovene by native speakers of each language. The Inventory was then administered and assessed with individual participants as well as with the designated groups of participants. That strategy allowed the project team to compare a group-based assessment of forgiveness with traditional self-report assessment of forgiveness.
That assessment was a crucial element of this latest study because the bulk of past research has simply extended measures of forgiveness between individuals to groups. In fact, Dr. Enright et al. produced a study in January 2015 (Journal of Peace Psychology) entitled “Examining Group Forgiveness: Conceptual and Empirical Issues” that was one of the first to propose: 1) a benchmark definition of group forgiveness; and, 2) specific concepts for developing a group forgiveness measuring tool.
Incorporating that earlier work, the newly-developed EGFI scale of intergroup forgiveness is based on a definition of forgiveness between groups and is operationalized using group behaviors rather than individual cognition and emotion.
“Our findings suggest the EGFI is a reliable and valid measure of intergroup forgiveness,” the study group concludes in its final report. “This new measure can facilitate the work of peace advocates and researchers.” The study also indicates the Inventory could be used to:
- Assess where and when to intervene with conflicting groups;
- Evaluate the effectiveness of conflict resolution efforts;
- Assess where groups have been unjust to one another and, therefore, where they could benefit from conflict reduction efforts;
- Assess group forgiveness interventions;
- Evaluate progress when groups go through interventions such as peace and reconciliation commissions;
- Assess change in forgiveness from pre to post intervention; and,
- Advance our understanding of effective interventions.
Meet the Group Forgiveness Study Team:
- Robert D. Enright, University of Wisconsin-Madison and International Forgiveness Institute
- Julie Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Matthew Hirshberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- John Klatt, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Benjamin Boateng, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Preston Boggs, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Chelsea Olson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Peiying Wu, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Baoyu Zhang, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Fu Na, Beijing Normal University – Beijing, China
- Mei Ling Shu, Beijing Normal University – Beijing China
- Tomaz Erzar, University of Ljubljana – Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Tina Huang, National Chung-Cheng University – Taiwan (officially the Republic of China)
- Tung-En Hsiao, National Chung-Cheng University – Taiwan
- Chansoon (Danielle) Lee, National Council of State Boards of Nursing – Chicago, IL
- Jacqueline Song, International Forgiveness Institute, Madison, WI (native of the Philippines)