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Forgiveness

How Forgiving Are You?

Our degree of forgiveness varies depending on who hurt us and when it occurred.

Key points

  • We sometimes wonder just how forgiving we are toward people who hurt us.
  • If this is the case for you, below is the 18-item Personal Forgiveness Scale for you to take and score privately.
  • This scale is based on the well-validated Enright Forgiveness Inventory, used in the United States, South America, the Middle East, and Asia.
  • Your score may give you a sense of whether or not you need to do some forgiveness work toward the person who hurt you, if you choose to forgive.

Have you ever wondered how forgiving you are? If so, you are invited to take the Personal Forgiveness Scale below, which is published in the book, The Forgiving Life (Enright, 2012). This forgiveness scale is based on the highly reliable and valid Enright Forgiveness Inventory, validated across cultures in the United States, Middle East, South America, and Asia (see, for example, Enright et al., 2021). The scale below has 18 short items.

KuanShu Designs, used with permission
Source: KuanShu Designs, used with permission

Personal Forgiveness Scale

We are sometimes unfairly hurt by people, whether in family, friendship, school, work, or other situations. We ask you now to think of someone who has hurt you unfairly and deeply—someone who has wounded your heart. For a few moments, visualize in your mind the events of that interaction. Try to see the person and try to experience what happened.

Now, please answer a series of questions about your current attitude toward this person. We do not want your rating of past attitudes, but your ratings of attitudes right now.

Please rate each item on a 1 to 6 scale as follows:

1 = Strongly Disagree

2 = Disagree

3 = Slightly Disagree

4 = Slightly Agree

5 = Agree

6 = Strongly Agree

For each item, please rate the level of agreement that best describes your current feeling on the above scale. When indicated, place each word or phrase in the blank when answering each item.

This first set of items deals with your current feelings or emotions right now toward the person.

1. I feel _________________ toward him/her.

  • warm (1)
  • negative (2)
  • kindness (3)
  • dislike (4)
  • happy (5)
  • angry (6)

This set of items deals with your current behavior toward the person.

2. Regarding this person, I do or would _______________.

  • show friendship (7)
  • avoid (8)
  • aid him/her when in trouble (9)
  • ignore (10)
  • do a favor (11)
  • not speak to him/her (12)
KuanShu Designs, used with permission
Source: KuanShu Designs, used with permission

This set of items deals with how you currently think about the person. Think about the kinds of thoughts that occupy your mind right now regarding this particular person.

3. I think he or she is _______________.

  • of good quality (13)
  • corrupt (14)
  • a good person (15)

4. Regarding this person, I _______

  • disapprove of him/her (16)
  • wish him/her well (17)
  • condemn the person (18)

Scoring

Now add up your scores as you recorded them for the following items: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17

Important: Now reverse score the remaining items. In other words, if you gave a rating of 1, score it as a 6; if you rated an item as a 2, give this a 5; if you rated an item as a 6, then give it a 1; and so on.

Add up your scores on all 18 items.

Interpretation of Your Total Score

If you scored between 18 and 40, you are low in forgiving this person at this point in time. This does not mean that you will not raise your score. If you so choose, you might consider engaging in the forgiveness process to rid yourself of resentment and possibly to improve your relationship (if you have had one with the person).

If you scored between 41 and 63, you are still somewhat low in forgiving, but obviously are getting closer to a psychological state that is not as angry and therefore perhaps not as vulnerable. The midpoint of the scale is 63 and so anything below this shows that you can improve your forgiveness response if you are motivated to enter the forgiveness process.

If you scored between 64 and 86, you are showing forgiveness, at least to a degree. You may have a minimally wounded heart, in need of some forgiveness, but not imperative if you wish to be emotionally free from the effects of others’ injustices toward you.

If you scored between 87 and 108, then you are already forgiving or well on your way to even more forgiving toward that person. You probably do not need to go through the forgiveness process with this person.

I wish you the best in your forgiveness journey.

References

Enright, R.D. (2012). The forgiving life. Washington, D.C.: APA Books.

Enright, R.D. (2015). 8 keys to forgiveness. New York: Norton.

Enright, R. D. (2019). Forgiveness is a choice. Washington, DC: APA Books (paperback version)

Enright, R.D., Johnson, J., Fu, N., Erzar, T., Hirshberg, M., Huang, T., Klatt, J., Lee, D., Boateng, B., Boggs, P., Hsiao, T.-E., Olson, C., Shu, M.L., Song, J., Wu, P., & Zhang ,B. (2020). Measuring intergroup forgiveness: The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory. Peace and Conflict Studies, 27, 1-29.

Enright, R., Rique, J., Lustosa, R., Song, M. J. Y., Komoski, M. C., Batool, I., Bolt, D. Sung, H. J., Huang, S. T., Park, H., Leer-Salvesen, P. E., Andrade, T., Naeem, A., Viray, J., Costuna, E. (2021). Validating the Enright Forgiveness Inventory – 30 (EFI-30). International Studies. European Journal of Psychological Assessment.

Kim, J., Volk, F., & Enright, R.D. (2020). Validating the Enright Self-Forgiveness Inventory (ESFI). Current Psychology.

Yu, L., Gambaro, M., Song, J., Teslik, M., Song, M., Komoski, M.C., Wollner, B., & Enright, R.D. (2021). Forgiveness therapy in a maximum-security correctional institution: A randomized clinical trial. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy.

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