Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Roles of Family Forgiveness and Spirituality in Adolescent Moral Functioning
by Dennison-Tedesco, Ruth P., Ph.D., Loyola University Maryland, 2010, 156; 3458923
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to explore the practice of family forgiveness as a building block of adolescent moral functioning. This research utilized an incremental validity design to examine families’ forgiveness practices and faith variables, and their relationship to adolescents’ other-oriented character traits, what this study terms Goodwill Virtues.

Over 500 male and female students in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, grades 9 through 12, and 328 parents provided the self-report data for this study. While family forgiveness practices and parent dispositional forgiveness were expected to predict offspring’s Tendency to Forgive, they were also expected to predict additional Goodwill Virtues, in this case, Gratitude and Prosocial Behavior. The roles of adolescent and parent Spirituality and Religiousness were also expected to uniquely predict adolescent outcomes over Family Forgiveness and the covariates, gender and personality.

A series of hierarchical regression analyses was conducted to explore the hypotheses, while controlling for adolescent gender and personality. Finally, multiple regression analysis was used to identify the optimal predictive model by linking all the parent and offspring predictors to the adolescent Goodwill Virtues, while controlling for the same covariates.

Findings were mixed. While parents and teens demonstrated significant relationships regarding their Spirituality and Religiousness, for the most part, parent faith variables showed no predictive ability regarding the adolescent outcomes. Adolescent predictors of Spirituality/Universality and Family Forgiveness did contribute additional variance to Tendency to Forgive and Gratitude over the covariates, whereas adolescent Religiousness and spirituality/Connectedness predicted Prosocial Behavior. Family Forgiveness demonstrated no relationship to Prosocial Behavior in any of the analyses.

These findings suggest that by the time individuals reach adolescence, they are acting independently of parents regarding these outcomes even though their spiritual and religious lives are still significantly related to their parents’ spiritual and religious lives. Furthermore, Goodwill Virtues are complex traits, drawing on various aspects of family, self, and environment to operate. While some Goodwill Virtues may be influenced by Family Forgiveness practices, all are not. The covariates in this study design also highlight the advantages of using multi-dimensional measures of personality, spirituality, and religiousness to isolate aspects of an individual that may influence particular outcomes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Piedmont, Ralph L.
School: Loyola University Maryland
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Pastoral Counseling, Developmental psychology, Individual & family studies, Spirituality
Keywords: Adolescent forgiveness, Adolescent spirituality and parents, Adolescents, Family forgiveness, Forgiveness, Good will virtues, Goodwill, Spirituality and personality, Tendency to forgive
Publication Number: 3458923
ISBN: 978-1-124-68908-1
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