Date of Submission

Spring 5-6-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)


Conflict Management

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Volker Franke


Sherrill Hayes

Committee Member

Robert Gould


The goal of this research is to develop an interpersonal definition of forgiveness. The question asked by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967 still remains: where do we go from here? Conflict is ubiquitous and systems for managing direct and structural violence are struggling to address issues like the police brutality experienced by African American populations or women’s lived experience of sexual abuse and harassment. Forgiveness can play a role in many conflicts, what can it do in these cases? From intractable global and political disputes to basic inter and intra-personal conflicts forgiveness and reconciliation projects have meant the difference between outcomes of persistent dysfunction and vulnerability, or resilience. Forgiveness has not been clearly defined, or predicted, and many questions about who forgives and how they forgive remain unanswered. This research examines hypotheses on personality type influencing individuals’ preferences for forgiveness. This research also examines hypotheses on social motivators influencing individuals’ preferences for forgiveness. Statistical analysis of participant responses is done to generate a functioning forgiveness typology with 10 distinct forgiveness types relating to specific preferences in attitudes and behaviors for forgiveness. Analysis identifies strong relationships with personality. Significant relationships between gender, race, religiosity, and conflict management styles are also identified. The results of participant responses and the findings on the relationships between personality and social motivators are applied to the contemporary #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements and their responses to structural violence. This dissertation successfully defines forgiveness in interpersonal terms and presents a forgiveness typology which aids in assessing responses to structural violence.