Emotional disclosure and closeness toward offenders

Kent D. Harber, Karen E. Wenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Two studies tested whether emotional disclosure increases feelings of closeness toward offenders. In Study 1, participants recalled either someone who had offended them or a neutral acquaintance, "Disclosure" participants then expressed their thoughts andfeelings regarding theirtargets, and "suppression" participants described their targets nonemotionally. As predicted, disclosure increased closeness toward offenders but not toward acquaintances. Study 2 extended these results by including a good friend to test whether disclosure selectively increases closeness toward offenders, and not simply toward any person who evokes strong feelings. This prediction was confirmed. Furthermore, the disclosure effect remained reliable even afler controlling for mood. Studies 1 and 2 also showed that closeness toward offenders, but not toward friends or acquaintances, was positively related to the proportion of emotion-related words disclosed. Collectively, these findings suggest that confronting the emotions associated with an offense may be an important first step toward forgiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-746
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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