Article: Forgive to live: forgiveness, health, and longevity.

by Drs. L. L. Toussaint, A. D. Owen and A. Cheadle

Journal Of Behavioral Medicine, 35(4), 375-386. doi:10.1007/s10865-011-9362-4


This study examined multiple types of forgiveness as predictors of mortality and potential psychosocial, spiritual, and health mechanisms of the effects of forgiveness on longevity.  Data from a nationally representative sample of United States adults ages 66 and older assessed forgiveness, health, religiousness/spirituality, and socio-demographics (N = 1,232).  God's unconditional forgiveness and conditional forgiveness of others initially emerged as statistically significant predictors of mortality risk.  However, only conditional forgiveness of others remained a significant predictor of mortality after controlling for religious, socio-demographic, and health behavior variables.  Mediators of the association between conditional forgiveness of others and mortality were examined, and a statistically significant indirect effect was identified involving physical health.  These findings suggest that conditional forgiveness of others is associated with risk for all-cause mortality, and that the mortality risk of conditional forgiveness may be conferred by its influences on physical health.

Forgiveness liberates love.